Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificially controlling water condensation leads to 'room-temperature ice'

Date:
July 28, 2010
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Researchers in Spain have studied the underlying mechanisms of water condensation in the troposphere and found a way to make artificial materials to control water condensation and trigger ice formation at room temperature.

Atomic force microscopy image of ice-like water patches on a BaF2 (111) surface at 25°C.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Institute of Physics

Earth's climate is strongly influenced by the presence of particles of different shapes and origins -- in the form of dust, ice and pollutants -- that find their way into the lowest portion of the atmosphere, the troposphere. There, water adsorbed on the surface of these particles can freeze at higher temperatures than pure water droplets, triggering rain and snow.

Related Articles


Researchers at Spain's Centre d'Investigació en Nanocičncia i Nanotecnologia (CIN2) have studied the underlying mechanisms of water condensation in the troposphere and found a way to make artificial materials to control water condensation and trigger ice formation at room temperature. Described in the Journal of Chemical Physics, which is published by the American Institute of Physics, their work may lead to new additives for snowmaking, improved freezer systems, or new coatings that help grow ice for skating rinks.

"Several decades ago, scientists predicted that materials with crystal faces exhibiting a structure similar to that of hexagonal ice, the form of all natural snow and ice on Earth, would be an ideal agent to induce freezing and trigger rain," explains Dr. Albert Verdaguer. "This explanation has since proven to be insufficient."

The research team chose to study barium fluoride (BaF2), a naturally occurring mineral, also known as "Frankdicksonite," as an option. They examined water adsorption on BaF2 (111) surfaces under ambient conditions using different scanning force microscopy modes and optical microscopy to zoom in on the role atomic steps play in the structure of water films, which can affect the stabilization of water bilayers and, ultimately, condensation.

Despite having the desired hexagonal structure, BaF2 turned out to be a poor ice-nucleating material. But oddly enough, other researchers had discovered that when the mineral's surface has defects, its condensation efficiency is enhanced.

Verdaguer and his colleagues figured out why this occurs. "Under ambient conditions -- room temperature and different humidities -- we observed that water condensation is mainly induced by the formation of two-dimensional ice-like patches at surface defects," Verdaguer says. "Based on our results and previous research, we're preparing artificial materials to improve water condensation in a controllable way."

The next step? The researchers' goal now is to produce environmentally-friendly synthetic materials for efficiently inducing snow. "If water condenses in an ordered way, such as a hexagonal structure, on such surfaces at ambient conditions, the term 'room temperature ice' would be fully justified," adds Verdaguer. "The solid phase, ice, would be produced by a surface effect rather than as a consequence of temperature. In the long term, we intend to prepare smart materials, 'intelligent surfaces,' that will react to water in a predefined way."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Cardellach, A. Verdaguer, J. Santiso, and J. Fraxedas. Two-dimensional wetting: The role of atomic steps on the nucleation of thin water films on BaF2(111) at ambient conditions. Journal of Chemical Physics, June 21, 2010 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Artificially controlling water condensation leads to 'room-temperature ice'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727174915.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2010, July 28). Artificially controlling water condensation leads to 'room-temperature ice'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727174915.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Artificially controlling water condensation leads to 'room-temperature ice'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727174915.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

Buzz60 (Jan. 28, 2015) — A team of college students design and build a pair of goggles that will obscure any corporate branding from your field of vision. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amplifying Tiny Movements to Visualize the Invisible

Amplifying Tiny Movements to Visualize the Invisible

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) — A new video recording method that amplifies seemingly invisible motion could lead to a touch-free vital signs monitor, and offer a new tool for engineers to gauge stresses on bridges and tunnels in real time. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing's Profit Soars

Boeing's Profit Soars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) — Boeing delivered more commercial planes, especially 737s and 787s, fueling profit. But it issued a mixed outlook. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Replacements for Foxconn's Workers

Robot Replacements for Foxconn's Workers

Reuters - Business Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) — Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry is looking to automation to keep productivity up without the rising costs of human labor. Meg Teckman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins