Water’s size-dependent freezing to cubic ice
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Water has been occasionally found to freeze to cubic ice. To investigate this occurrence thermodynamically, we use the known enthalpy and interfacial energy of hexagonal and cubic ices and calculate a critical radius r(c) of appromximately 15 nm for a water droplet and a critical thickness delta(c) of approximately 10 nm for water's flat film. Accordingly, water droplets smaller than 15 nm radius and films thinner than 10 nm would freeze to cubic ice in the 160-220 K range and bigger droplets and thicker films would freeze to hexagonal ice. This provides a thermodynamic basis for the occasionally found presence of cubic ice in the atmosphere, and explains why water's nanometer-sized clusters and water confined to nanometer-sized pores freeze to cubic ice. Conditions for cubic ice-hexagonal ice phase inversion have been discussed. Impurities in water and different extents of proton ordering in the crystallites of cubic and hexagonal ices would have a significant effect on r(c) and delta(c).
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