Surface-charge-induced orientation of interfacial water suppresses heterogeneous ice nucleation on α-alumina (0001)
- 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research – Atmospheric Aerosol Research (IMKAAF), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
- 2Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, 55128 Mainz, Germany
Abstract. Surface charge is one of the surface properties of atmospheric aerosols, which has been linked to heterogeneous ice nucleation and hence cloud formation, microphysics, and optical properties. Despite the importance of surface charge for ice nucleation, many questions remain on the molecular-level mechanisms at work. Here, we combine droplet-freezing assay studies with vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy to correlate interfacial water structure to surface nucleation strength. We study immersion freezing of aqueous solutions of various pHs on the atmospherically relevant aluminum oxide α-Al2O3 (0001) surface using an isolated droplet on the surface. The high-pH solutions freeze at temperatures higher than that of the low-pH solution, while the neutral pH has the highest freezing temperature. On the molecular level, the SFG spectrum of the interfacial water changes substantially upon freezing. At all pHs, crystallization leads to a reduction of intensity of the 3400 cm−1 water resonance, while the 3200 cm−1 intensity drops for low pH but increases for neutral and high pHs. We find that charge-induced surface templating suppresses nucleation, irrespective of the sign of the surface charge. Heterogeneous nucleation is most efficient for the nominally neutral surface.