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Top Story

How surface texture can help or hinder formation of ice crystals

A new study examining how ice forms from pure water found that the geometry of the surface that water is on can have an effect on whether or not it freezes, suggesting that surface geometry plays an important role in ice formation. Greater understanding of how ice forms could have implications ranging from transportation safety to food production. Ice typically forms around particles like pollen or dust, but ultra-pure water can remain a liquid down to minus 40 degrees Celsius. Because of this, the surface that ultra-pure water is on can have a big impact on formation of ice crystals. However, there has been no successful theory to predict which materials are good at forming ice. Using a computer simulation, researchers found that ice forms most efficiently in a wedge shape containing 45-degree or 70-degree angles, likely because it allows water molecules to align in a way that helps form an ice lattice.

Visit Website | Image credit: Tianshu Li, George Washington University