Friday, March 16, 2007

Water to ice in nanoseconds, at temperatures way above water's boiling point!

Daniel Dolan has used Sandia's Z machine to compress water into ice at extreme temperatures and pressures. (Credit: Bill Doty: DOE/Sandia National Laboratories)Wow.

"Science Daily — Sandia's huge Z machine, which generates temperatures hotter than the sun, has turned water to ice in nanoseconds. However, don't expect anything commercial just yet: the ice is hotter than the boiling point of water. "The three phases of water as we know them -- cold ice, room temperature liquid, and hot vapor -- are actually only a small part of water's repertory of states," says Sandia researcher Daniel Dolan. "Compressing water customarily heats it. But under extreme compression, it is easier for dense water to enter its solid phase [ice] than maintain the more energetic liquid phase [water]." "

And they're talking about compressing water at 50,000 to 120,000 atmospheres.

Why? : ""This work," says Dolan, "is a basic science study that helps us understand materials at extreme conditions." "Accurate knowledge of water's behavior is potentially important for Z because the 20-million-ampere electrical pulses the accelerator sends through water compress that liquid. Ordinarily, the water acts as an insulator and as a switch. But because the machine is being refurbished with more modern and thus more powerful equipment, questions about water's behavior at extreme conditions are of increasing interest to help avoid equipment failure for the machine or its more powerful successors, should those be built. "

1 comment:

RichardT said...

Mmmm, Ice 9, here we come...