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IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Scientists cool water to -263° C without freezing it

•, Nick Lavars

Researchers in Switzerland have figured out a way to reduce the temperature of water to a very cool -263° C (-441.4° F) without freezing it, opening up some interesting possibilities around how we study molecular structures at extreme temperatures.

Water turns to ice as it is cooled to zero degrees and molecules on the surface begin to crystallize and turn to ice, which spreads to nearby molecules and continues on until the whole body of water is frozen solid. In this form, the water molecules are organized in a 3D lattice structure which is very different to the unorganized state of regular water molecules, a characteristic that allows it to flow freely.

So what if water could be cooled to below freezing temperatures without forming the icy crystals that give it this solidity? Physicists and chemists at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have figured out a new way of doing this, and it centers on a new kind of biological matter they've called lipidic mesophase. Within it are molecules that behave in much as the same way as natural fat molecules, or lipids, and will take it upon themselves to gather and self-assemble into membranes.