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Concept: Melting point


It is widely considered that most organisms cannot survive prolonged exposure to temperatures below 0°C, primarily because of the damage caused by the water in cells as it freezes. However, some organisms are capable of surviving extreme variations in environmental conditions. In the case of temperature, the ability to survive subzero temperatures is referred to as cryobiosis. We show that the ozobranchid leech, Ozobranchus jantseanus, a parasite of freshwater turtles, has a surprisingly high tolerance to freezing and thawing. This finding is particularly interesting because the leach can survive these temperatures without any acclimation period or pretreatment. Specifically, the leech survived exposure to super-low temperatures by storage in liquid nitrogen (-196°C) for 24 hours, as well as long-term storage at temperatures as low as -90°C for up to 32 months. The leech was also capable of enduring repeated freeze-thaw cycles in the temperature range 20°C to -100°C and then back to 20°C. The results demonstrated that the novel cryotolerance mechanisms employed by O. jantseanus enable the leech to withstand a wider range of temperatures than those reported previously for cryobiotic organisms. We anticipate that the mechanism for the observed tolerance to freezing and thawing in O. jantseanus will prove useful for future studies of cryopreservation.

Concepts: Temperature, Thermodynamics, Solid, Liquid, Melting point, Freezing, Cryobiology, Cryopreservation


In-plane frost growth on chilled hydrophobic surfaces is an inter-droplet phenomenon, where frozen droplets harvest water from neighboring supercooled liquid droplets to grow ice bridges that propagate across the surface in a chain reaction. To date, no surface has been able to passively prevent the in-plane growth of ice bridges across the population of supercooled condensate. Here, we demonstrate that when the separation between adjacent nucleation sites for supercooled condensate is properly controlled with chemical micropatterns prior to freezing, inter-droplet ice bridging can be slowed and even halted entirely. Since the edge-to-edge separation between adjacent supercooled droplets decreases with growth time, deliberately triggering an early freezing event to minimize the size of nascent condensation was also necessary. These findings reveal that inter-droplet frost growth can be passively suppressed by designing surfaces to spatially control nucleation sites and by temporally controlling the onset of freezing events.

Concepts: Liquid, Control, Nucleation, Supercooling, Superheating, Melting point, Freezing rain, Frost


Phase-change materials, such as meta-stable undercooled (supercooled) liquids, have been widely recognized as a suitable route for complex fabrication and engineering. Despite comprehensive studies on the undercooling phenomenon, little progress has been made in the use of undercooled metals, primarily due to low yields and poor stability. This paper reports the use of an extension of droplet emulsion technique (SLICE) to produce undercooled core-shell particles of structure; metal/oxide shell-acetate (‘/' = physisorbed, ’-‘ = chemisorbed), from molten Field’s metal (Bi-In-Sn) and Bi-Sn alloys. These particles exhibit stability against solidification at ambient conditions. Besides synthesis, we report the use of these undercooled metal, liquid core-shell, particles for heat free joining and manufacturing at ambient conditions. Our approach incorporates gentle etching and/or fracturing of outer oxide-acetate layers through mechanical stressing or shearing, thus initiating a cascade entailing fluid flow with concomitant deformation, combination/alloying, shaping, and solidification. This simple and low cost technique for soldering and fabrication enables formation of complex shapes and joining at the meso- and micro-scale at ambient conditions without heat or electricity.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Metal, Solid, Viscosity, Liquid, Fluid, Supercooling, Melting point


TaC, HfC and their solid solutions are promising candidate materials for thermal protection structures in hypersonic vehicles because of their very high melting temperatures (>4000 K) among other properties. The melting temperatures of slightly hypostoichiometric TaC, HfC and three solid solution compositions (Ta1-xHfxC, with x = 0.8, 0.5 and 0.2) have long been identified as the highest known. In the current research, they were reassessed, for the first time in the last fifty years, using a laser heating technique. They were found to melt in the range of 4041-4232 K, with HfC having the highest and TaC the lowest. Spectral radiance of the hot samples was measured in situ, showing that the optical emissivity of these compounds plays a fundamental role in their heat balance. Independently, the results show that the melting point for HfC0.98, (4232 ± 84) K, is the highest recorded for any compound studied until now.

Concepts: Temperature, Heat, Solid, Liquid, Materials science, Heat transfer, Melting point, Melting


On the surface of water ice, a quasi-liquid layer (QLL) has been extensively reported at temperatures below its bulk melting point at 273 K. Approaching the bulk melting temperature from below, the thickness of the QLL is known to increase. To elucidate the precise temperature variation of the QLL, and its nature, we investigate the surface melting of hexagonal ice by combining noncontact, surface-specific vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy and spectra calculated from molecular dynamics simulations. Using SFG, we probe the outermost water layers of distinct single crystalline ice faces at different temperatures. For the basal face, a stepwise, sudden weakening of the hydrogen-bonded structure of the outermost water layers occurs at 257 K. The spectral calculations from the molecular dynamics simulations reproduce the experimental findings; this allows us to interpret our experimental findings in terms of a stepwise change from one to two molten bilayers at the transition temperature.

Concepts: Density, Ice, Temperature, Solid, Liquid, Melting point, Water ice, Fahrenheit


Ice repellent coatings have been studied and keenly sought after for many years, where any advances in the durability of such coatings will result in huge energy savings across many fields. Progress in creating anti-ice and anti-frost surfaces has been particularly rapid since the discovery and development of slippery, liquid infused porous surfaces (SLIPS). Here we use SLIPS-coated differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) pans to investigate the effects of the surface modification on the nucleation of supercooled water. This investigation is inherently different from previous studies which looked at the adhesion of ice to SLIPS surfaces, or the formation of ice under high humidity conditions. Given the stochastic nature of nucleation of ice from supercooled water, multiple runs on the same sample are needed to determine if a given surface coating has a real and statistically significant effect on the nucleation temperature. We have cycled supercooling to freezing and then thawing of deionized water in hydrophilic (untreated aluminum), hydrophobic, superhydrophobic, and SLIPS-treated DSC pans multiple times to determine the effects of surface treatment on the nucleation and subsequent growth of ice. We find that SLIPS coatings lower the nucleation temperature of supercooled water in contact with statistical significance and show no deterioration or change in the coating performance even after 150 freeze-thaw cycles.

Concepts: Statistics, Statistical significance, Liquid, Differential scanning calorimetry, Nucleation, Supercooling, Melting point, Freezing rain


Ice-binding proteins (IBPs), including antifreeze proteins, ice structuring proteins, thermal hysteresis proteins, and ice recrystallization inhibition proteins, are found in cold-adapted organisms and protect them from freeze injuries by interacting with ice crystals. IBPs are found in a variety of organism, including fish(1), plants(2, 3), arthropods(4, 5), fungi(6), and bacteria(7). IBPs adsorb to the surfaces of ice crystals and prevent water molecules from joining the ice lattice at the IBP adsorption location. Ice that grows on the crystal surface between the adsorbed IBPs develops a high curvature that lowers the temperature at which the ice crystals grow, a phenomenon referred to as the Gibbs-Thomson effect. This depression creates a gap (thermal hysteresis, TH) between the melting point and the nonequilibrium freezing point, within which ice growth is arrested(8-10), see Figure 1. One of the main tools used in IBP research is the nanoliter osmometer, which facilitates measurements of the TH activities of IBP solutions. Nanoliter osmometers, such as the Clifton instrument (Clifton Technical Physics, Hartford, NY,) and Otago instrument (Otago Osmometers, Dunedin, New Zealand), were designed to measure the osmolarity of a solution by measuring the melting point depression of droplets with nanoliter volumes. These devices were used to measure the osmolarities of biological samples, such as tears(11), and were found to be useful in IBP research. Manual control over these nanoliter osmometers limited the experimental possibilities. Temperature rate changes could not be controlled reliably, the temperature range of the Clifton instrument was limited to 4,000 mOsmol (about -7.5 °C), and temperature recordings as a function of time were not an available option for these instruments. We designed a custom-made computer-controlled nanoliter osmometer system using a LabVIEW platform (National Instruments). The cold stage, described previously(9, 10), contains a metal block through which water circulates, thereby functioning as a heat sink, see Figure 2. Attached to this block are thermoelectric coolers that may be driven using a commercial temperature controller that can be controlled via LabVIEW modules, see Figure 3. Further details are provided below. The major advantage of this system is its sensitive temperature control, see Figure 4. Automated temperature control permits the coordination of a fixed temperature ramp with a video microscopy output containing additional experimental details. To study the time dependence of the TH activity, we tested a 58 kDa hyperactive IBP from the Antarctic bacterium Marinomonas primoryensis (MpIBP)(12). This protein was tagged with enhanced green fluorescence proteins (eGFP) in a construct developed by Peter Davies' group (Queens University)(10). We showed that the temperature change profile affected the TH activity. Excellent control over the temperature profile in these experiments significantly improved the TH measurements. The nanoliter osmometer additionally allowed us to test the recrystallization inhibition of IBPs(5, 13). In general, recrystallization is a phenomenon in which large crystals grow larger at the expense of small crystals. IBPs efficiently inhibit recrystallization, even at low concentrations(14, 15). We used our LabVIEW-controlled osmometer to quantitatively follow the recrystallization of ice and to enforce a constant ice fraction using simultaneous real-time video analysis of the images and temperature feedback from the sample chamber(13). The real-time calculations offer additional control options during an experimental procedure. A stage for an inverted microscope was developed to accommodate temperature-controlled microfluidic devices, which will be described elsewhere(16). The Cold Stage System The cold stage assembly (Figure 2) consists of a set of thermoelectric coolers that cool a copper plate. Heat is removed from the stage by flowing cold water through a closed compartment under the thermoelectric coolers. A 4 mm diameter hole in the middle of the copper plate serves as a viewing window. A 1 mm diameter in-plane hole was drilled to fit the thermistor. A custom-made copper disc (7 mm in diameter) with several holes (500 μm in diameter) was placed on the copper plate and aligned with the viewing window. Air was pumped at a flow rate of 35 ml/sec and dried using Drierite (W.A. Hammond). The dry air was used to ensure a dry environment at the cooling stage. The stage was connected via a 9 pin connection outlet to a temperature controller (Model 3040 or 3150, Newport Corporation, Irvine, California, US). The temperature controller was connected via a cable to a computer GPIB-PCI card (National instruments, Austin, Texas, USA).

Concepts: Water, Ice, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Melting point, Freezing, Freezing-point depression, Antifreeze protein


When selecting medication for feeding tube administration, the liquid formulation is selected, so as to avoid obstructions that may occur from incompletely crushing a solid dosage form. Liquid medications can present issues of intolerance and compatibility when administered via a feeding tube. A predictor of intolerance is the liquid’s osmolarity, and a predicator of compatibility is the liquid’s pH value. This study examines 62 liquid formulations for their osmolality, pH, and physical compatibility with enteral nutrition (EN) formulas. These medications were selected as being the most commonly dispensed liquid medications from our outpatient pharmacy department. This study measures osmolality using freezing point depression. Depending on the dose, the osmotic load of a liquid medication may cause cramping and diarrhea. The pH value is predictive of potential interactions with the EN formula. Many drugs are weak bases and require acidic vehicles for optimal stability. The acidic liquids are especially reactive with enteral formulas that contain intact proteins. The result of this interaction can result in an occlusion of the feeding tube as the proteins form a gel-like clog. This study combined the liquid medication directly with the EN formula to determine the potential for feeding tube occlusion. Some drugs formed a solid mass in the test tube immediately, whereas others only presented granules, which may later contribute to obstructing the feeding tube. The prescriber should be aware of the potential impact of their choice in formulation, both in terms of the gastrointestinal tolerance and potential for interaction with coadministered nutrition.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Acid, Blood, Volume, PH, Pharmaceutical drug, Melting point, Freezing-point depression


Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) are of great importance for applications in cryomedicine or the food industry. They are frequently used to lower the freezing point by preventing the growth of larger ice crystals; thus, it is paramount to determine their thermal hysteretic characteristics. However, the experimental analysis of the thermal hysteresis-an effect that is characteristic for AFPs-remains a challenging process. An easy-to-use test method for measuring the thermal hysteresis of AFPs was developed and tested with the type III AFPs. Traditional methods that have been used until now have their disadvantages and limitations. The new measurement method described in this paper allows detection of the complete cooling, freezing, heating, and melting process in a single measurement. This makes it possible to directly determine the thermal hysteresis as a functional effect of the antifreeze proteins. Measurements of the thermal hysteresis were performed by applying ultrasound to initiate the crystallization process of the antifreeze protein solution. This ultrasound technique also allows a crystallization process to be performed at defined temperature. The demonstrated results were highly reproducible and could be clearly read off the measurement curves. As a future perspective, this enables the design of automatic test devices that can be also miniaturized.

Concepts: Proteins, Crystal, Measurement, Metrology, Test method, Melting point, Cryobiology, Antifreeze protein


B4C is widely used as control rods in light water reactors, such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, because it shows excellent neutron absorption and has a high melting point. However, B4C can melt at lower temperatures owing to eutectic interactions with stainless steel and can even evaporate by reacting with high-temperature steam under severe accident conditions. To reduce the risk of recriticality, a precise understanding of the location and chemical state of B in the melt core is necessary. Here we show that a novel soft X-ray emission spectrometer in electron probe microanalysis can help to obtain a chemical state map of B in a modeled control rod after a high-temperature steam oxidation test.

Concepts: Light, Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear power, Melting point, Nuclear fuel, Enriched uranium, Light water reactor, Uranium-235