New insight into icing and de-icing properties of hydrophobic and hydrophilic structured surfaces based on core–shell particles†
Icing is an important problem, which often leads to emergency situations in northern countries. The reduction of icing requires a detailed understanding of this process. In this work, we report on a systematic investigation of the effects of geometry and chemical properties of surfaces on the formation of an ice layer, its properties, and thawing. We compare in detail icing and ice thawing on flat and rough hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces. We also show advantages and disadvantages of the surfaces of each kind. We demonstrate that water condenses in a liquid form, leading to the formation of a thin continuous water layer on a hydrophilic surface. Meanwhile, separated rounded water droplets are formed on hydrophobic surfaces. As a result of slower heat exchange, the freezing of rounded water droplets on a hydrophobic surface occurs later than the freezing of the continuous water layer on a hydrophilic one. Moreover, growth of ice on hydrophobic surfaces is slower than on the hydrophilic ones, because ice grows due to the condensation of water vapor on already formed ice crystals, and not due to the condensation on the polymer surface. Rough hydrophobic surfaces also demonstrate a very low ice adhesion value, which is because of the reduced contact area with ice. The main disadvantage of hydrophobic and superhydrophobic surfaces is the pinning of water droplets on them after thawing. Flat hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol)-modified surfaces also exhibit very low ice adhesion, which is due to the very low freezing point of the water–poly(ethylene glycol) mixtures. Water easily leaves from flat hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol)-modified surfaces, and they quickly become dry. However, the ice growth rate on poly(ethylene glycol)-modified hydrophilic surfaces is the highest. These results indicate that neither purely (super)hydrophobic polymeric surfaces, nor “antifreeze” hydrophilic ones provide an ideal solution to the problem of icing.