In a scientific first, a team of scientists have managed to find a means to make water exist in liquid form, at temperatures as low as -263°C
Conventional physics states that water cannot exist in liquid form, at temperatures lower than 0°C, and for that reason, 0°C has been set as a benchmark for the freezing point of water. These days, scientific standards are being challenged quite often, although one might not have imagined the possibility of manipulating the freezing point of water, which is exactly what Physicists and chemists at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have managed to achieve, letting water remain in liquid form up until the temperature of -263°C.
Water, when existing in liquid state, has a stray molecular structure, which allows for it move freely, unlike the rigid structure of ice, which has a more ordered 3-D lattice structure. To allow for water to exist in liquid state at sub-zero temperatures, the research team ideated a new form of biological matter, which they have dubbed lipidic mesophase. The matter is composed of lipid molecules, which, is a form of fat. The particles have been designed in such a manner, that they possess the ability to self-assemble into membranes, effectively stuffing them, and leaving no room for water to expand in size, as it freezes.
This cramping nature of the molecules, is what facilitates the existence of water in liquid phase, at almost a temperature of absolute zero (0K, -273°C). “In the normal freezing process, when ice crystals form they usually damage and destroy membranes and crucial large biomolecules, which prevents us from determining their structure and function when they interact with lipid membranes,” explains Professor Raffaele Mezzenga from the Laboratory of Food & Soft Materials at ETH Zurich.