The structure of ice in 3-D

The structure of ice - rotatable in 3 dimensions

These graphics show the regular arrangement of water molecules in ice. The configuration is maintained by hydrogen bonds between hydrogen and oxygen atoms on neighbouring water molecules. Show ... hide H bonds. .

In ice the maximum number of 4 hydrogen bonds per water molecule is reached. This locks the water molecules into "sheets" with a hexagonal structure and spaces them out so that ice has a lower density than water, and ice floats on water, giving an insulating layer which enables life to exist in water beneath.

The first view shows 28 water molecules in ice - forming 2 layers. The hexagonal motif repeats when seen side on.

The arrangement of water molecules is more obvious in this larger model, showing 432 H20 molecules. H bonds on / off
When rotated, this structure reveals its regularity, turned through 60 ° / 120 ° about the y axis, and back again .
Rotation of 90 ° about the y axis shows the layers from the edge. Rotation about the x axis shows repeats at 90 ° intervals: 90 ° / 180 °

Other related topics on this site

(also accessible from the drop-down menu above)
The Biological Significance of Water

Interactive 3-D molecular graphic models on this site

(also accessible from the drop-down menu above)
The Water molecule
Hydrogen bonds in water

Web references