Scientists Create New form of Flexible Ice
by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 13
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you tried to bend an icicle? Ice is almost always a well-structured, stiff and brittle substance. Icicles have a thin and pristine feel to them that is slick and spotless. However, through recent scientific discoveries, pure ice grown in labs can transform into an elastic and bendable substance using electric voltage to make flexible ice.
Icicles, also known as crystals, contain small defects such as tiny cracks, pores or dislocated sections. In contrast, the whiskers of ice grown in labs are a fraction of the width of a normal human hair, and lack the defects of normal ice.
The process of making flexible ice was discovered by Peizhen Xu who attends the University of Zhejiang, located in China. They used a needle to insert electric voltage inside a chilled chamber causing the cold vapor to form into crystals called ice whiskers. Bending the crystal’s fibers makes the core of the crystal compress on the inside of the curve causing it to tighten up and flatten. Crystals can make up a variety of shapes such as a square, triangle, star or hexagon. The shapes in which the crystals can morph depends on the change in temperature and pressure.
Crystals have unique structures and are typically rigid. It is interesting and surprising that you can turn this substance into a bendable, elastic or twistable object.
[Sources: Sciencenews.org; New York Times]