In a study that sheds light on water behavior under harsh conditions, scientists found a new type of ice using a cocktail-shaker-like apparatus.
The researchers utilized ball milling to combine conventional ice with steel balls in a container chilled to -328 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in ‘medium-density amorphous ice,’ or MDA, which resembles a white powder.
The process yielded a new amorphous ice (atomic-scale model, right, compared to ordinary ice, left). Unlike all other known ices, it had the same density as liquid water, challenging accepted wisdom that no ice exists in this density range. 3/6 pic.twitter.com/jv95K2ApRz
— UCL News (@uclnews) February 3, 2023
Amorphous ice has unorganized water molecules that resemble a liquid, whereas crystalline ice has water molecules that are structured in a systematic way. This new type of ice potentially exists on the solar system’s icy moons, allowing for a better understanding of water, a necessary component of life.
The researchers believe that the pressures they employed in the lab may occur on ice moons like Jupiter’s Europa or Saturn’s Enceladus. The findings might improve the scientists’ understanding of liquid water and its numerous oddities.