Ice accumulation can be bad news. That’s why we spend so much time and money keeping it off power lines, airplane wings, and wind turbine blades. Many strategies are being developed to keep these surfaces ice-free, and researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago led by Sushant Anand, along with Daniel A. Beysens from ESPCI Paris, have just added a new weapon in the fight against ice, one that uses simple molecules and straightforward physics (Adv. Mater. 2019, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201807812). Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a chemical that solidifies at a temperature higher than the freezing point of water. As water droplets condense, they release enough heat to melt DMSO and form a thin layer of liquid underneath and around the water droplet. Illinois team member Rukmava Chatterjee says he thinks this delays the water’s freezing because the liquid DMSO traps heat around the droplet, and it’s hard for ice to form on the smooth surface with nothing to latch onto and nucleate around.
Music: “Electro Cabello” by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0.
This video was updated on April 2, 2019, to correct the authors' name for the phase-changing material. It is "Phase-switching liquids," not "Phase-shifting liquids." Also, the labels for "superhydrophobic surface" and "lubricant-infused surface" at 1:38 were corrected; they were reversed in the original version.