The prospect of making fire with ice is relatively simple, but how do you make ice with fire? With the ice you can convert the clear material into a lens that then acts as a magnifying glass of the sun’s rays, but the prospect of making ice using fire is much more difficult. Scientists, have, however, discovered a way piquing the curiosity of many and establishing the truly mysterious nature of water.
If water is kept in a completely smooth container without any other bubbles or dust, it can drop its temperature several degrees beneath its normal freezing point without forming the crystal formations required to bring about ice formations that grow as any other crystal does off of one central point. If, however, an imperfection is formed in the still water by bumping the bottle filled with liquid, or piercing it with a needle the liquid will turn to ice fairly quickly.
Scientist Igor Lubomirsky of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science has used another method, implementing the use of quasi-amorphous pyroelectric films. The surface of these films change depending on the surface temperature of the material, and therefore if heated (as with fire) can change form from liquid to solid. Positively charged surfaces are far easier to form ice on than a negatively charged one. For example, a surface of charged lithium tantalate will freeze immediately when the surface is raised to a temperature of 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another curious trait discovered is that a surface of negatively charged ions would freeze from the top and move down in the direction of gravitational pull while positively charged ions would freeze from the bottom up. The reason for this is the positively charged atoms of oxygen naturally point toward negatively charged surfaces while negatively charged atoms point in the opposite direction. The reverse is true of hydrogen.
If changing the freezing point of water doesn’t seem like a terribly important concept, imagine the potential applications for cryonics. Normally one of the greatest hurdles current cryogenics run into is the propensity for frozen solid state water to expand when cooled. As a result, organic tissue within these states will often expand as it solidifies, damaging cells. Imagine a bag of frozen vegetables and how their texture seems different from that of a fresh bag. Though the tissues are a little different in this case, it’s similar in principle. Current cryonics make it difficult for delicate tissue to survive the process, adding yet another condition for the technological achievements required to revive such a damaged vessel.
In addition, there are potential applications for rescuing animals that require incredibly cold conditions to survive in, but cannot themselves be contained in containers because the cold water would freeze. It is also an important component in triggering cloud formation. These principles could in the end result in vast strides in science and technology. If liquid could remain so despite temperature and then be later turned to ice, there are several possibilities, particularly since water is one of few compounds that expands when freezing and contracts when it cools.