The Rigakubu News

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Find the Ice Seventeen! --An Afterword

Issei Komatsu (Associate Professor, Geochemical Research Center)

On April 3, 2015, I gave a talk on cutting-edge ice research for junior and senior high school students at Koshiba Hall titled "Find the Ice Seventeen! I gave a lecture titled "Find the Ice Seventeen!" at Koshiba Hall on April 3, 2015, on the topic of cutting-edge ice research for junior and senior high school students. In fact, ice is known to have many crystal structures with different arrangements of water molecules by changing temperature and pressure, and the normal ice produced in a freezer is named ice I, followed by ice II, ice III, and so on in roughly the order of discovery, using Roman numerals. I gave a lecture with the title of "ice XVI (16)," in which I predicted what kind of ice would be found next, based on the results of the latest research.

To my own surprise, the "predictions" I made in this lecture have come true one after another. First of all, ice XVII (17), which was found in 2016, is very similar to the ice structure found by computer simulation in 2014. Although many fictitious ice found in computer simulations have been reported, in my talk, I paid particular attention to this ice reported in 2014 as a strong candidate for ice XVII. In my talk, I introduced this method and said that there must be unknown ice in such a special environment. ice XIX is an ice that appears under low temperature and high pressure by adding a small amount of acid as an impurity, but the technique of creating ice with a different crystal structure by adding acid or base as an impurity has been applied to other types of ice as well. The method of making ice with different crystal structures by adding acids and bases as impurities has also been applied to other types of ice, and was introduced as a new method of making ice in the lecture.

Figure: ice VII grown under high pressure at room temperature; the diameter of the sample chamber is 0.3 mm; dendritic crystals of ice (ice VII) are formed by rapid pressurization and crystallization of an aqueous alcohol solution, as shown in the photo.

As a researcher in this field, I am proud of the fact that I was able to predict or discover three new types of ice after Ice XVII, but actually, I was more surprised than the ice discovery. Last year, a student came to my laboratory who had heard my lecture. Unfortunately, according to the student, he could not remember much of what I had said, so it may have been a coincidence rather than anything to do with my lecture. However, many people say that it is difficult to understand the effects of outreach activities such as lectures and experiments for the general public, and it is fortuitous that such a direct "effect" was achieved.

Tangible rewards such as this one are extremely rare, but I feel that outreach has many intangible benefits for researchers themselves. When I see children's eyes light up as they listen to my lectures or conduct experiments, I feel that my research has been recognized in a real sense. I have been unable to do face-to-face outreach activities in Corona for the past two years, but I hope to be able to do ice experiments with children again soon.

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Published in the July 2022 issue of Faculty of Science News

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