I assume that the reason water freezes is because as you decrease the temperature, the kinetic energy of the water molecules decreases and the dipole bonding potential eventually over comes the escape velocity of the molecules and they form a crystal structure. What would happen if you attempted to freeze water in the presence of a very powerful electric field? Will the water molecules align to the field and make it harder to form a solid or easier to form a solid?


An electric field is not experimentally known to change the equilibrium freezing point of water of 0 C. However, water can be supercooled to -40 C, in the absence of nucleation sites. Electric fields affect the freezing of (unstable) supercooled water.

See this 2010 article in the journal "Science": http://www.sciencemag.org/content/327/5966/672

and "Electrofreezing of Supercooled Water" http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00875907

Although not demonstrated experimentally, there are computational models of water which predict that above $10^9 V/m$ an electric field would orient the dipoles of the water molecules and change the equilibrium freezing point of water.

  • $\begingroup$ He said VERY powerful, but plus one for links and supercooled. $\endgroup$ – Asphir Dom Mar 21 '14 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think what you mean is the water will still attempt to freeze at 0 C, but it will have trouble forming an ice crystal? Does this mean we super-cool living tissue without damaging the tissue from the ice crystals? $\endgroup$ – linuxfreebird Mar 21 '14 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ Without the electric field, under very pure conditions, with a smooth container, water can be colded to -40 C without freezing. Many times I've seen supercooling just from leaving bottled water in the car overnight. My kids loves to shake the water bottles and suddenly see much ice form. Electric fields are known to influence the freezing of supercooled water. $\endgroup$ – DavePhD Mar 21 '14 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ This is cool, but the only sentence that actually answers the question is the first and it sounds a little bit axiomatic... $\endgroup$ – DarioP Mar 21 '14 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Dave pho please email I have some very important questions that i would like to ask you but not on a public page. I need some expert advice on these fields. Please. angue.monroe@icloud.com. Or anyone on this page that knows about these fields could email me so I could ask a few questions. Thank you so much. $\endgroup$ – user68077 Dec 20 '14 at 5:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.