It is a well proved fact that water starts boiling at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It has also been a long observed fact that whenever water is placed in confined spaces, its freezing and boiling points modifies to a certain extent. The change amounts to be somewhere close to 10 C or more. However, a team from MIT registered some unexpected anomalies to this behavior when they placed water in the tiniest possible place – inside the carbon nanotubes. A carbon nanotube can, at max holds just a few drops of water in it and it was found that here water could freeze even at higher temperatures. The same was registered even at those points in mercury where water would normally be boiling.
The discovery also demonstrates how most familiar materials can modify to quite an extent when placed inside a carbon nanotube. This discovery will definitely lead to several new applications like the ice-filled wires that can benefit from thermal and electrical characteristics of ice and stay normal as regular temperatures. Strano, chemical engineering professor from MIT says, “If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior.” These were the most unexpected effects, but the biggest surprise came when direction as well as magnitude of change completely changed. During one of the tests, water solidified at 105 C or more than that.
It can be assumed that water’s modified behavior in the carbon nanotubes depends more over the diameter of these small funnels. During the experiment, these nanotubes were left open from both sides and water reservoirs were kept on both ends. The minute difference between 1.06 nanometers and 1.05 nanometers can bring a difference of ten degrees in the freezing point. The researchers also found that, “All bets are off when you get really small. It’s really an unexplored space.”
The prior trials on finding out how fluids behaved in small places showed completely different results. The main reason was that most researchers couldn’t measure the approx. size of carbon nanotubes in exact manner. Thus. they failed to realize what outcomes could be obtained with such small differences.
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