Water usually begins freezing by forming an ice crystal around a particle of dust or some other impurity. Scientists have suspected for decades that electric fields could be used to trigger freezing in supercooled water.
But previous experiments to understand whether electric fields can influence freezing were complicated by the materials used.
Instead of metal, Lubomirsky and his colleagues used a pyroelectric material, which can form a short-lived electric field when heated or cooled.
The researchers placed the experimental setup in a humid room and turned down the thermostat until water droplets formed on each crystal, then cooled the room further until the water froze.
Coauthor Meir Lahav, also of the Weizmann Institute, says water’s response to charge probably depends on how the water molecules line up against the surface they’re freezing to, though more work is needed to figure out exactly what is happening. Although he has no specific plans to harness the effect for applications such as cryogenic freezing or cloud seeding, Lahav says his team has already filed a patent.
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Described as "Saturday Night Live for Business" they will get your attendees to look at the fast-paced, constantly changing world with a fresh, new perspective. Whether they present their insightful motivational humor keynote or daily convention coverage, The O'Shea Report will engage your audience with business relevance and hilarious insights on day-to-day challenges. 5 Science reports that water can freeze at different temperatures depending on whether the surface it rests on is positively or negatively charged. Without that starting point, water can stay liquid well below its freezing point, down to about -42? Celsius. A molecule of water has a slight positive charge on one end and a negative charge on the other, so electric fields could snap water molecules into a rigid formation by aligning them according to charge. The best materials for holding electric charge are metals, but as anyone who has tried to open a car door after a snowstorm knows, ice forms easily on metals even without a charge. The researchers used four pyroelectric crystals, each of which was placed inside a copper cylinder. This supercooled water is useful in nature and in the lab, from frogs and fish surviving long winters to cryogenic preservation of blood and tissues.

The bottom surfaces of two crystals were coated with chromium to conduct an electric charge, and the other two were coated with an aluminum oxide to keep the surface uncharged.
But after the negative charge dissipated, heating the room to -8? was enough to induce a positive charge in the pyroelectric crystal and freeze the water. So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. Merging an entertaining delivery style with relevant subject matter, The O'Sheas understand what meeting planners want.
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