Supercooled liquid water hits record low

Ultrafast laser records droplet temperature at –46° Celsius

4:38pm, June 18, 2014

HIT AND RUN  By zapping supercooled droplets with X-rays, physicists probed liquid water about 46 degrees Celsius below its freezing point, as seen in an illustration.

Using a miniature water gun and a powerful laser, researchers have probed tiny water droplets at –46° Celsius, the lowest temperature that ordinary water has ever been detected in the liquid phase.

“It’s a world record, and it’s hard to imagine it will ever fall,” says H. Eugene Stanley, a physicist at Boston University.

The study, published in the June 19 Nature, marks the first time that scientists have observed liquid water in the low-temperature region where water’s already unusual properties are expected to become even weirder. By studying such cold conditions, researchers hope to understand water’s quirks at all temperatures and how life takes advantage of them.

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