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Supercooled water escaping from metastability.

ABSTRACT: The return of supercooled water to a stable equilibrium condition is an irreversible process which, in large enough samples, takes place adiabatically. We investigated this phenomenon in water by fast imaging techniques. As water freezes, large energy and density fluctuations promote the spatial coexistence of solid and liquid phases at different temperatures. Upon synchronously monitoring the time evolution of the local temperature, we observed a sharp dynamic transition between a fast and a slow decay regime at about 266.6 K. We construe the observed phenomenon in terms of the temperature dependence of heat transfers from solid and liquid volumes already at their bulk coexistence temperature towards adjacent still supercooled liquid regions. These findings can be justified by observing that convective motions induced by thermal gradients in a supercooled liquid near coexistence are rapidly suppressed as the nucleated solid fraction overcomes, at low enough temperatures, a characteristic percolation threshold.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC4245691 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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