Heterogeneous nucleation of ice on model carbon surfaces

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:35 PM
Valeria Molinero, Laura Lupi and Arpa Hudait, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Carbonaceous particles account for 10% of the particulate matter in the atmosphere. The experimental investigation of heterogeneous freezing of water droplets by carbonaceous particles reveals widespread ice freezing temperatures. The origin of the soot and its oxidation and aging modulate its ice nucleation ability, however, it is not known which structural and chemical characteristics of soot account for the variability in ice nucleation efficiency. We find that atomically flat carbon surfaces promote heterogeneous nucleation of ice, while molecularly rough surfaces with the same hydrophobicity do not. We investigate a large set of graphitic surfaces of various dimensions and radii of curvature consistent with those of soot in experiments, and find that variations in nanostructures alone could account for the spread in the freezing temperatures of ice on soot in experiments. A characterization of the nanostructure of soot is needed to predict its ice nucleation efficiency.

Atmospheric oxidation and aging of soot modulates its ice nucleation ability. It has been suggested that an increase in the ice nucleation ability of aged soot results from an increase in the hydrophilicity of the surfaces upon oxidation. Oxidation, however, also impacts the nanostructure of soot, making it difficult to assess the separate effects of soot nanostructure and hydrophilicity in experiments. We investigate the effect of changes in hydrophilicity of model graphitic surfaces on the freezing temperature of ice. Our results indicate that the hydrophilicity of the surface is not in general a good predictor of ice nucleation ability. We find a correlation between the ability of a surface to promote nucleation of ice and the layering of liquid water at the surface. The results of this work suggest that ordering of liquid water in contact with the surface plays an important role in the heterogeneous ice nucleation mechanism.


L. Lupi, A. Hudait and V. Molinero, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 136 (2014), 3156-3164

L. Lupi and V. Molinero, J. Phys. Chem. A, DOI: 10.1021/jp4118375 (2014)

L. Lupi, N. Kastelowitz and V. Molinero, J. Chem. Phys. (under review)