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The researchers knew that when seawater freezes, it can form tiny plates of ice. Impurities in the water are squeezed out as the plates form and become trapped in the spaces between them. Tomsia's group exploits this behavior using concentrated suspensions of ceramic particles in water. As the water freezes, it pushes the ceramic particles into the layers between the ice plates. The rate of freezing determines the thickness of the resulting ceramic layers, which can range from 1 to 200 µm.