Free Content

What is 'unfreezable water', how unfreezable is it and how much is there?

Authors: Wolfe, Joe; Bryant, Gary; Koster, Karen L.

Source: Cryoletters, Volume 23, Number 3, May 2002 , pp. 157-166(10)

Publisher: Cryoletters

Buy & download fulltext article:

Free content The full text is free.

View now:
PDF 54.2kb 


Water that remains unfrozen at temperatures below the equilibrium bulk freezing temperature, in the presence of ice, is sometimes called 'unfreezable' or 'bound'. This paper analyses the phenomenon in terms of quantitative measurements of the hydration interaction among membranes or macromolecules at freezing temperatures. These results are related to analogous measurements in which osmotic stress or mechanical compression is used to equilibrate water of hydration with a bulk phase. The analysis provides formulae to estimate, at a given sub-freezing temperature, the amount of unfrozen water due to equilibrium hydration effects. Even at tens of degrees below freezing, this hydration effect alone can explain an unfrozen water volume that considerably exceeds that of a single 'hydration shell' surrounding the hydrophilic surfaces. The formulae provided give a lower bound to the amount of unfrozen water for two reasons. First, the well-known freezing point depression due to small solutes is, to zeroth order, independent of the membrane or macromolecular hydration effect. Further, the unfrozen solution found between membranes or macromolecules at freezing temperatures has high viscosity and small dimensions. This means that dehydration of such systems, especially at freezing temperatures, takes so long that equilibrium is rarely achieved over normal experimental time scales. So, in many cases, the amount of unfrozen water exceeds that expected at equilibrium, which in turn usually exceeds that calculated for a single 'hydration shell'.


Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: May 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • CryoLetters is a bimonthly international journal for low temperature sciences, including cryobiology, cryopreservation or vitrification of cells and tissues, chemical and physical aspects of freezing and drying, and studies involving ecology of cold environments, and cold adaptation

    The journal publishes original research reports, authoritative reviews, technical developments and commissioned book reviews of studies of the effects produced by low temperatures on a wide variety of scientific and technical processes, or those involving low temperature techniques in the investigation of physical, chemical, biological and ecological problems.

Related content



Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content

Text size:

A | A | A | A
Share this item with others: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. print icon Print this page