In Situ Observation of Ice Formation from Water Vapor by Environmental SEM

Zhouyang Zhang, Linfeng Fei, Zhenggang Rao, Dingjun Liu, C. W. Leung, Yu Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A microscopic understanding of the mechanism of direct ice formation from water vapor has a significant benefit for controlling the processes involving ice condensation and evaporation. However, previous studies on this topic have been limited to theoretical simulations or optical observations. Here, by in situ observation via environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), we revealed that hexagonal ice crystals are developed by a step-by-step pathway in a supersaturated water vapor environment. Furthermore, we also discerned that such steps came from two different origins, which are screw dislocations and initial steps. In addition, the relationship between the edge-length (of hexagonal ice crystals) and the growth time was quantitatively studied at controlled temperatures and pressures by experimental data fitting. This study shows that qualitative and quantitative observations of ice formation can be made with simple setups, and it should inspire future investigations toward important physicochemical processes using ESEM, especially those that simultaneously involve two or more phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6602-6608
Number of pages7
JournalCrystal Growth and Design
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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