Material science: Stopping ice before it forms

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    Ice accumulation on aircraft and other structures can be dangerous, but de-icing procedures are expensive or environmentally unfriendly. Joanna Aizenberg at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her collaborators show how ice could be prevented from forming on cold surfaces.

    Credit: ACS

    Combining theoretical predictions with experiments, the authors fabricated a silicon surface with honeycomb-like microstructures and coated it with a water-repellent polymer film. There was minimal contact time and heat transfer between the surface and a falling water droplet, such that after it made contact (pictured, left), the droplet fully retracted (right) before it could freeze. This prevented ice formation in temperatures down to about −25 °C.

    ACS Nano doi:10.1021/nn102557p (2010)

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    Material science: Stopping ice before it forms. Nature 468, 479 (2010) doi:10.1038/468479c

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