Ice nucleation on hydrophilic silicon

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We have used Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to study thin water films on a hydrophilic silicon surface in the temperature range from 20 to -20 °C. Throughout that range, the spectra of the water adjacent to the silicon surface are consistent with that of bulk water near 25 °C. Thicker films (> 1 μm) freeze at -11±1 °C. We reconcile the apparent paradox of a thin film of water which is quite liquidlike at a temperature where freezing of thicker films occurs by hypothesizing that the nucleation event in the thicker film is triggered by a critical ice embryo which forms at some small distance from the silicon surface, as opposed to in direct contact with it. © 2008 American Institute of Physics.

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Journal of Chemical Physics