Gels as emerging anti-icing materials: a mini review
Gel materials have drawn great attention recently in the anti-icing research community due to their remarkable potential for reducing ice adhesion, inhibiting ice nucleation, and restricting ice propagation. Although the current anti-icing gels are in their infancy and far from practical applications due to poor durability, their outstanding prospect of icephobicity has already shed light on a new group of emerging anti-icing materials. There is a need for a timely review to consolidate the new trends and foster the development towards dedicated applications. Starting from the stage of icing, we first survey the relevant anti-icing strategies. The latest anti-icing gels are then categorized by their liquid phases into organogels, hydrogels, and ionogels. At the same time, the current research focuses, anti-icing mechanisms and shortcomings affiliated with each category are carefully analysed. Based upon the reported state-of-the-art anti-icing research and our own experience in polymer-based anti-icing materials, suggestions for the future development of the anti-icing gels are presented, including pathways to enhance durability, the need to build up the missing fundamentals, and the possibility to enable stimuli-responsive properties. The primary aim of this review is to motivate researchers in both the anti-icing and gel research communities to perform a synchronized effort to rapidly advance the understanding and making of gel-based next generation anti-icing materials.