Ice and Clathrate Formation

Ice formation is an important consideration in many contexts, such as the preservation of organs for transplantation, preventing the formation of clathrate hydrate plugs in natural gas pipelines, preserving food or biological matter, and understanding the function of anti-freeze proteins.

To achieve control over the formation of ice, it is crucial to understand its nucleation at a molecular level. Studies have shown that heterogenous nucleation of ice occurs much more readily than homogenous nucleation. That is, ice likes to form on interfaces. Thus, an understanding of ice nucleation in real-world contexts requires identifying the molecular-scale features of surfaces that inhibit or promote its growth.

We use and develop novel techniques to characterize the formation and growth of ice in order to gain a deep understanding of the relationships between the chemistry and topology of a surface and the resulting thermodynamics of ice formation on that surface.