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What Happens To Water Inside Carbon Nanotubes At High Temperature? Study Reveals

First Posted: Nov 30, 2016 03:20 AM EST
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Water may act strangely when confined in carbon nanotubes as it will freeze solid at even high temperature.
(Photo : Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Water behaves unexpectedly when confined in the carbon nanotubes. The researchers from MIT discovered that water inside the carbon nanotubes can freeze solid even at high temperatures.

Normally, the water at sea level starts to boil at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, the researchers discovered that when water is confined in tiny spaces, its boiling and freezing points are altered and dropped at around 10 degrees Celsius or so.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. It was led by Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, Kumar Agrawal, postdoctoral, and other colleagues, according to Phys.Org.

The team found unexpected changes when water is placed inside the carbon nanotubes gauged in nanometers or billionths of a meter. The water can freeze solid even at the boiling point inside the carbon nanotubes. This discovery could lead to a new application such as ice-filled wires, which take advantage of the unique electrical and thermal properties of ice while being stable at room temperature.

Strano explained that if you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can distort its phase behavior. He was referring to how and when the substances change between solid, liquid and gas phases. The finding surprised the team as in one of the tests showed that the water solidified at 105 degrees Celsius or more.

The researchers used a technique called vibrational spectroscopy. With this, they could monitor how the water was moving and know whether it was in liquid, gas or solid phase. This technique is used for the first time.

They discovered that even the difference between a nanotube with a 1.05-nanometer diameter and a 1.06-nanometer diameter had freezing points that varied by tens of degrees Celsius. They were surprised that such small differences could result in different outcomes, according to Science Alert.

Strano described the finding as not necessarily ice but an ice-like phase. Currently, the team is continually researching the water confined in these tubes to determine what is going on. The study indicates that although water is abundant on Earth, there still much to know about how it works.

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