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Issue 16, 2009
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A microfluidic apparatus for the study of ice nucleation in supercooled water drops

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Abstract

This paper describes a microfluidic instrument that produces drops of supercooled water suspended in a moving stream of liquid fluorocarbon, and measures the temperatures at which ice nucleates in the drops. A microfluidic chip containing a monodisperse drop generator and a straight channel with 38 embedded resistance thermometers was placed in contact with a seven-zone temperature-control plate and imaged under a microscope with a high-speed camera. This instrument can record the freezing temperatures of tens of thousands of drops within minutes, with an accuracy of 0.4 °C. The ice-nucleation temperatures in ∼80-µm drops were reported for the freezing of 37 061 drops of pure water, and of 8898 drops of water seeded with silver iodide. Nucleation of ice in pure water was homogenous and occurred at temperatures between −36 and −37.8 °C, while water containing silver iodide froze between −10 and −19 °C. The instrument recorded the largest sets of individual freezing temperatures (37 061), had the fastest data acquisition rate (75 measurements/s), and the best optical (3 µm) and temporal (70 µs) resolutions among instruments designed to study nucleation of ice. The dendritic growth of ice in 150-µm drops of supercooled water at −35 °C was observed and imaged at a rate of 16 000 frames/s.

Graphical abstract: A microfluidic apparatus for the study of ice nucleation in supercooled water drops

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Mar 2009, accepted on 01 May 2009 and first published on 22 May 2009


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B906198C
Citation: Lab Chip, 2009,9, 2293-2305
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    A microfluidic apparatus for the study of ice nucleation in supercooled water drops

    C. A. Stan, G. F. Schneider, S. S. Shevkoplyas, M. Hashimoto, M. Ibanescu, B. J. Wiley and G. M. Whitesides, Lab Chip, 2009, 9, 2293
    DOI: 10.1039/B906198C

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