Mechanism of anisotropic surface self-diffusivity at the prismatic ice–vapor interface
Predictive theoretical models for mesoscopic roughening of ice require improved understanding of attachment kinetics occurring at the ice–vapor interface. Here, we use classical molecular dynamics to explore the generality and mechanics of a transition from anisotropic to isotropic self-diffusivity on exposed prismatic surfaces. We find that self-diffusion parallel to the crystallographic a-axis is favored over the c-axis at sub-melt temperatures below about −35 °C, for three different representations of the water–water intermolecular potential. In the low-temperature anisotropic regime, diffusion results from interstitial admolecules encountering entropically distinct barriers to diffusion in the two in-plane directions. At higher temperatures, isotropic self-diffusion occurring deeper within the quasi-liquid layer becomes the dominant mechanism, owing to its larger energy of activation.