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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Itty Bitty Ice

WASHINGTON -- Chemists have created the world's smallest pieces of ice. Roger Miller of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a student used liquid helium to produce the ice, which consists of only six molecules of water in flat hexagonal rings, just as ice exists in nature.

The researchers performed the work to learn more about water.

"We know that when it freezes, water forms a unique hexagonal ring structure, which accounts for its low density and the fact that it floats in water. Understanding the hydrogen bonding forces that align the water molecules in this way is our goal," said Miller, whose work was reported in the Jan. 14 issue of Science.

Very small pieces of ice are easier to study, he said.