Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Supercooling


In this study, we have generated and characterized Electronic Cigarette (EC) aerosols using a combination of advanced technologies. In the gas phase, the particle number concentration (PNC) of EC aerosols was found to be positively correlated with puff duration whereas the PNC and size distribution may vary with different flavors and nicotine strength. In the liquid phase (water or cell culture media), the size of EC nanoparticles appeared to be significantly larger than those in the gas phase, which might be due to aggregation of nanoparticles in the liquid phase. By using in vitro high-throughput cytotoxicity assays, we have demonstrated that EC aerosols significantly decrease intracellular levels of glutathione in NHOKs in a dose-dependent fashion resulting in cytotoxicity. These findings suggest that EC aerosols cause cytotoxicity to oral epithelial cells in vitro, and the underlying molecular mechanisms may be or at least partially due to oxidative stress induced by toxic substances (e.g., nanoparticles and chemicals) present in EC aerosols.

Concepts: Cell biology, Water, Oxidative stress, Cell culture, Cytotoxicity, Emulsion, Supercooling, Phases of matter


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


The microscopic kinetics of ubiquitous solid-solid phase transitions remain poorly understood. Here, by using single-particle-resolution video microscopy of colloidal films of diameter-tunable microspheres, we show that transitions between square and triangular lattices occur via a two-step diffusive nucleation pathway involving liquid nuclei. The nucleation pathway is favoured over the direct one-step nucleation because the energy of the solid/liquid interface is lower than that between solid phases. We also observed that nucleation precursors are particle-swapping loops rather than newly generated structural defects, and that coherent and incoherent facets of the evolving nuclei exhibit different energies and growth rates that can markedly alter the nucleation kinetics. Our findings suggest that an intermediate liquid should exist in the nucleation processes of solid-solid transitions of most metals and alloys, and provide guidance for better control of the kinetics of the transition and for future refinements of solid-solid transition theory.

Concepts: Iron, Metal, Solid, Surface tension, Phase transition, Supercooling, Spinodal decomposition, Crystal growth


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


Supercooled liquids exhibit spatial heterogeneity in the dynamics of their fluctuating atomic arrangements. The length and time scales of the heterogeneous dynamics are central to the glass transition and influence nucleation and growth of crystals from the liquid. Here, we report direct experimental visualization of the spatially heterogeneous dynamics as a function of temperature in the supercooled liquid state of a Pt-based metallic glass, using electron correlation microscopy with sub-nanometer resolution. An experimental four-point space-time correlation function demonstrates a growing dynamic correlation length, ξ, upon cooling of the liquid toward the glass transition temperature. ξ as a function of the relaxation time τ are in good agreement with Adam-Gibbs theory, inhomogeneous mode-coupling theory and random first-order transition theory of the glass transition. The same experiments demonstrate the existence of a nanometer thickness near-surface layer with order of magnitude shorter relaxation time than inside the bulk.

Concepts: Time, Fundamental physics concepts, Temperature, Solid, Liquid, Glass transition, Supercooling, Superheating


The violation of the Stokes-Einstein (SE) relation D ~ (η/T)(-1) between the shear viscosity η and the translational diffusion constant D at temperature T is of great importance for characterizing anomalous dynamics of supercooled water. Determining which time scales play key roles in the SE violation remains elusive without the measurement of η. We provide comprehensive simulation results of the dynamic properties involving η and D in the TIP4P/2005 supercooled water. This enabled the thorough identification of the appropriate time scales for the SE relation Dη/T. In particular, it is demonstrated that the temperature dependence of various time scales associated with structural relaxation, hydrogen bond breakage, stress relaxation, and dynamic heterogeneities can be definitely classified into only two classes. That is, we propose the generalized SE relations that exhibit “violation” or “preservation.” The classification depends on the examined time scales that are coupled or decoupled with the diffusion. On the basis of the classification, we explain the physical origins of the violation in terms of the increase in the plateau modulus and the nonexponentiality of stress relaxation. This implies that the mechanism of SE violation is attributed to the attained solidity upon supercooling, which is in accord with the growth of non-Gaussianity and spatially heterogeneous dynamics.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Temperature, Viscosity, Liquid, Shear stress, Gas, Supercooling, Freezing rain


Water has a number of anomalous physical properties, and some of these become drastically enhanced on supercooling below the freezing point. Particular interest has focused on thermodynamic response functions that can be described using a normal component and an anomalous component that seems to diverge at about 228 kelvin (refs 1-3). This has prompted debate about conflicting theories that aim to explain many of the anomalous thermodynamic properties of water. One popular theory attributes the divergence to a phase transition between two forms of liquid water occurring in the ‘no man’s land’ that lies below the homogeneous ice nucleation temperature (TH) at approximately 232 kelvin and above about 160 kelvin, and where rapid ice crystallization has prevented any measurements of the bulk liquid phase. In fact, the reliable determination of the structure of liquid water typically requires temperatures above about 250 kelvin. Water crystallization has been inhibited by using nanoconfinement, nanodroplets and association with biomolecules to give liquid samples at temperatures below TH, but such measurements rely on nanoscopic volumes of water where the interaction with the confining surfaces makes the relevance to bulk water unclear. Here we demonstrate that femtosecond X-ray laser pulses can be used to probe the structure of liquid water in micrometre-sized droplets that have been evaporatively cooled below TH. We find experimental evidence for the existence of metastable bulk liquid water down to temperatures of 227(-1)(+2) kelvin in the previously largely unexplored no man’s land. We observe a continuous and accelerating increase in structural ordering on supercooling to approximately 229 kelvin, where the number of droplets containing ice crystals increases rapidly. But a few droplets remain liquid for about a millisecond even at this temperature. The hope now is that these observations and our detailed structural data will help identify those theories that best describe and explain the behaviour of water.

Concepts: Density, Water, Ice, Temperature, Liquid, Surface tension, Triple point, Supercooling


The influence of confinement on the phases of superfluid helium-3 is studied using the torsional pendulum method. We focus on the transition between the A and B phases, where the A phase is stabilized by confinement and a spatially modulated stripe phase is predicted at the A-B phase boundary. Here we discuss results from superfluid helium-3 contained in a single 1.08-μm-thick nanofluidic cavity incorporated into a high-precision torsion pendulum, and map the phase diagram between 0.1 and 5.6 bar. We observe only small supercooling of the A phase, in comparison to bulk or when confined in aerogel, with evidence for a non-monotonic pressure dependence. This suggests that an intrinsic B-phase nucleation mechanism operates under confinement. Both the phase diagram and the relative superfluid fraction of the A and B phases, show that strong coupling is present at all pressures, with implications for the stability of the stripe phase.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Phase, Supercritical fluid, Supercooling


A metastable liquid may exist under supercooling, sustaining the liquid below the melting point such as supercooled water and silicon. It may also exist as a transient state in solid-solid transitions, as demonstrated in recent studies of colloidal particles and glass-forming metallic systems. One important question is whether a crystalline solid may directly melt into a sustainable metastable liquid. By thermal heating, a crystalline solid will always melt into a liquid above the melting point. Here we report that a high-pressure crystalline phase of bismuth can melt into a metastable liquid below the melting line through a decompression process. The decompression-induced metastable liquid can be maintained for hours in static conditions, and transform to crystalline phases when external perturbations, such as heating and cooling, are applied. It occurs in the pressure-temperature region similar to where the supercooled liquid Bi is observed. Akin to supercooled liquid, the pressure-induced metastable liquid may be more ubiquitous than we thought.

Concepts: Crystal, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Solid, Liquid, Supercooling, Melting point, Melting