Jan 20, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Are Snowflakes Really Uniquely Patterned? Know How These Tiny Ice Crystals Are Formed

May 11, 2017 07:11 AM EDT

A research from turfs University unleashed a new perspective on the beyond the 400-year-old question of the world famous mathematician and scientist Johannes Kepler, how are snowflakes really formed? Kepler has only speculated about the hexagonal shape and the microscopic building blocks of this crystal ice, including the factors behind this phenomenon.

The scientists identified that the snowflake's flat sides are formed by a larger hexagon that contains a central water molecule that is surrounded by other six in the same layer. They have combined an electron backscatter with a large single crystal ice model in the process.

According to NOAA, snowflakes are formed when water droplets freeze onto a pollen or dust particle which creates an ice crystal. A chemistry professor in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University and first author of the study, Mary Jane Shultz Ph.D. said that flat side of the chair form hexagon releases the most heat per area, which vaporizes itself. Thus, the snowflake hexagonal prism has flat sides that correspond to the larger hexagon.

Many have believed that snowflakes have unique patterns, but that isn't totally true. According to Wonderpolis, there is an inch of chance that a twin snowflake, or two snowflakes with the same pattern, may exist. But it may be ultimately rare.

Researchers have been using different models to study how snowflakes really form their shape. The molecular-level probe is the most recent. The electron backscatter diffraction technique that has been used in this study has been the most illustrative and visually compelling.

The research proved that snowflake points align with the crystallographic axes shown as hot spots in the electron backscatter data. Dr. Shultz and her team are further investigating the reactivity of the potential catalyzing conversion of gasses like CO2 and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere of these crystals.

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