Electro-nucleation of water nano-droplets in No Man's Land to fault-free ice Ic†
Elucidating water-to-ice freezing, especially in “No Man's Land” (150 K < T < 235 K), is fundamentally important (e.g., predicting upper-troposphere cirrus-cloud formation) – and elusive. An oft-neglected aspect of tropospheric ice-crystallite formation lies in inevitably-present electric fields’ role. Exploring nucleation in No Man's Land is technically demanding, owing to rapid nucleation rates, to mention nothing of difficulties of applying relevant electric fields thereto. Here, we tackle these intriguing open questions, via non-equilibrium molecular-dynamics simulations of sub-microsecond formation of rhombus-shaped ice Ic nano-crystallites from aggressively-quenched supercooled water nano-droplets in the gas phase, in external static electric fields. We explore droplets’ nano-confined geometries and the entropic-ordering agent of external electric fields as a means of realising cubic-ice formation, especially with very few stacking faults and defects.