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Scientists have recently introduced a new invention in which they were able to develop what they named "elastic ice microfibers," thin ice strands that can bend and curl.

Futurism article specified that describing their invention, the scientists said, instead of being brittle and breaking under pressure, the ice bends like wire, instead, "and it fairly looks really trippy."

To create the ice, Gizmodo reported, the researchers transferred water vapor into a tiny chamber that was then cooled through liquid nitrogen.

Then, they placed electrified tungsten inside of the chamber and then electrified it at 2,000 volts. This led to the attraction of water vapor and slowly, slowly, the formation of ice microfibers.

The scientists then fluctuated the chamber's temperature between 70 to 238 degrees Fahrenheit. They found that the microfibers turned exceptionally flexible at the coldest temperatures.

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Elastic Ice Microfibers: Scientists Believe They Can Help Detect Air Pollution
(Photo: Wasrts on Wikimedia Commons)
Photo shows distinct strands of ice and displaced dirt.

Water Ice 

In their research, the authors described water ice as hard and brittle, and it does not offer much. Attempts for bending, lengthening, or straightening samples result in breaks.

This, the study investigators also noted, is because of very tiny imperfections like irregularities in the surface, pores, and small cracks in the crystal composition.

Minus such imperfections continued explaining in their research; water ice has been approximated to have a theoretical elastic strain limit of 15 percent.

In these new initiatives, the scientists have attempted to test such theories by growing small bits of ice that do not have any imperfections.

Bendable Ice

Phys.org report said, at one point, the study authors found that they were able to bend a crystal strand nearly into a circle. They noted that following bending or stretching, all of the ice samples returned to their original form.

The scientists then chilled the ice to temperatures that range between -70 and -150 degrees Celsius, measuring the elastic range at every temperature.

They reached 10.9 percent on average, much more bendable than regular ice, averaging only 0.3 percent. They found that the fibers could be bent and stretched, as well.

Potential Pollution Detection

Other than being a surprising and intriguing discovery, researchers believe that these elastic ice microfibers can be used to transmit light, much like fiber optic cables.

Describing the invention, physicist Limin Tong, from the Zhejiang University in China, who was part of the research team that developed the elastic ice microfibers, said, these flexible ice strands "can guide light from one side to the other."

The team also believes they can be used in developing sensors for pollution detection. That is due to the particles like soot that can stick to the ice, enabling researchers to study how light is moving through the microfiber to gather insights on the amount of the type of pollution that might be in a particular site.

The finding of these flexible ice fibers has opened opportunities for the exploration of ice physics, as well as ice-related technology on micro-and nanometer scales; the researchers wrote in their study, "Elastic ice microfibers," published in Science.

Even if there is no direct application for such a discovery, it remains a fascinating development that presents that the world of physical science can still bring surprises in unique ways.

Related information about ice bending is shown on TKOR' YouTube video below:

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