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Scientists have created a new bendy and flexible form of ice

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Water ice isn't exactly known for its flexibility. In fact, it's quite the opposite: rigid and brittle, easily fracturing and snapping. It's why avalanches and sea ice fragmentation occur.

It's also why new research is so fascinating. Scientists have just grown microfibers of water ice that can bend in a loop – breaking the previous maximum strain by a significant percentage and opening up new opportunities for the exploration of ice physics.

Ice doesn't always behave the way we expect, and its elasticity – or rather, lack thereof – is a perfect example. Theoretically, it should have a maximum elastic strain of around 15 percent. In the real world, the maximum elastic strain ever measured was less than 0.3 percent. The reason for this discrepancy is that ice crystals have structural imperfections that drive up their brittleness.

So a team of researchers led by nanoscientist Peizhen Xu of Zhejiang University in China sought to create ice with as few structural imperfections as possible.



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