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Nanotubes Can Shape Water Molecules Into 'Two-Dimensional Ice'

Iwastheone quotes Phys.org: First, according to Rice University engineers, get a Nanotube hole. Then insert water. If the nanotube is just the right width, the water Molecules will align into a square rod. Rice materials scientist Rouzbeh Shahsavari and his team used molecular models to demonstrate their theory that weak Van Der Waals forces between the inner surface of the nanotube and the water molecules are strong enough to snap the oxygen and hydrogen atoms into place. Shahsavari referred to the contents as two-dimensional "ice," because the molecules freeze regardless of the temperature. He said the research provides valuable insight on ways to leverage atomic interactions between nanotubes and water molecules to fabricate nanochannels and energy-storing nanocapacitors... The researchers already knew that hydrogen atoms in tightly confined water take on interesting structural properties. Recent experiments by other labs showed strong evidence for the formation of nanotube ice and prompted the researchers to build density functional theory models to analyze the forces responsible... They discovered that nanotubes in the middle diameters had the most impact on the balance between molecular interactions and van der Waals pressure that prompted the transition from a square water tube to ice. The paper describes "solid-like water nanotubes," and the head of the research team believes they could have practical applications, according to the article. "Nanotube ice could find use in molecular machines or as nanoscale capillaries, or foster ways to deliver a few molecules of water or sequestered drugs to targeted cells, like a nanoscale syringe."

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