Heterogeneous Ice Nucleation: Interplay of Surface Properties and Their Impact on Water Orientations

Brittany Glatz, Sapna Sarupria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Ice is ubiquitous in nature, and heterogeneous ice nucleation is the most common pathway of ice formation. How surface properties affect the propensity to observe ice nucleation on that surface remains an open question. We present results of molecular dynamics studies of heterogeneous ice nucleation on model surfaces. The models surfaces considered emulate the chemistry of kaolinite, an abundant component of mineral dust. We investigate the interplay of surface lattice and hydrogen bonding properties in affecting ice nucleation. We find that lattice matching and hydrogen bonding are necessary but not sufficient conditions for observing ice nucleation at these surfaces. We correlate this behavior to the orientations sampled by the metastable supercooled water in contact with the surfaces. We find that ice is observed in cases where water molecules not only sample orientations favorable for bilayer formation but also do not sample unfavorable orientations. This distribution depends on both surface-water and water-water interactions and can change with subtle modifications to the surface properties. Our results provide insights into the diverse behavior of ice nucleation observed at different surfaces and highlight the complexity in elucidating heterogeneous ice nucleation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1190-1198
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 23 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.S. gratefully acknowledges financial support from Clemson University start-up funds and NSF grant #1541944. We thank the Clemson Cyberinfrastructure Technology Integration group for allocation of computing time on the Palmetto Cluster. We also thank Dr. Gren Patey (The University of British Columbia) for sharing his files on kaolinite with us and for insightful discussions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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