The transition of liquid water into ice clusters is a common phenomenon that occurs frequently in our natural environment. Therefore, it is important to understand how ice nucleates in metastable water on a sub-microscopic level. My research project involves coherent x-ray scattering methods such as small and wide-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS and WAXS) and optical microscopy imaging to study ice nucleation in supercooled water. To apply the x-ray scattering methods, we usually need to perform experiments that require large-scale facilities i.e. x-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs). These facilities afford the possibility to study the structure and dynamics of a sample as well as the ultrashort phenomena that happen on femtosecond timescales. To investigate the transition of water into ice on femtosecond scales at XFELs, a pump-probe experiment is done and an optical laser (short pulse duration) is used to trigger the sample and then probe it by shooting x-rays. For my project, I specifically work on water and ice as samples to study ice growth and nucleation but generally speaking, this method can be used to study the structure of biological samples, small particles, and solutions.
Read more about this on our research group webpage:https://www.aphys.kth.se/biox/research/cxs