The low frequency dielectric constant of supercooled water


THE extension of computer dynamical calculations of water structure1 to temperatures < 0 °C has encouraged speculation that the supercooled liquid might exhibit ferroelectricity. The discovery that, by use of surfactants such as sorbitan stéarates, water can be emulsified2 in hydrocarbon solvents and then readily supercooled, opens up extensive new fields of experimentation. We have measured at 1,652 Hz the real part of the low frequency permittivity of 0.5% and 1% water emulsions down to −36 °C and thence calculated the real part of the dielectric constant of liquid water, which is essentially static in this range of frequency and temperature. The values, shown graphically in Fig. 1, lie on a smooth curve and compare with data for polycrystalline ice3; no ferroelectric transitions are observed.

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