The freezing process is significantly influenced by environmental factors and surface morphologies. At atmospheric pressure, a surface below the dew and freezing point temperature for a given relative humidity nucleates water droplets heterogeneously on the surface and then freezes. This paper examines the effect of nanostructured surfaces on the nucleation, growth, and subsequent freezing processes. Microsphere Photolithography (MPL) is used to pattern arrays of silica nanopillars. This technique uses a self-assembled lattice of microspheres to focus UV radiation to an array of photonic jets in photoresist. Silica is deposited using e-beam evaporation and lift-off. The samples were placed on a freezing stage at an atmospheric temperature of 22±0.5°C and relative humidities of 40% or 60%. The nanopillar surfaces had a significant effect on droplet dynamics and freezing behavior with freezing accelerated by an order of magnitude compared to a plain hydrophilic surface at 60% RH where the ice bridges need to cover a larger void for the propagation of the freezing front within the growing droplets. By pinning droplets, coalescence is suppressed for the nanopillared surface, altering the size distribution of droplets and accelerating the freezing process. The main mechanism affecting freezing characteristics was the pinning behavior of the nanopillared surface.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This material is based upon work supported by the US National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1604183 and 1653792.

Keywords and Phrases

Atmospheric humidity; Atmospheric pressure; Drops; Microspheres; Nanostructures; Photoresists; Silica, Droplet dynamics; E beam evaporation; Environmental factors; Freezing behavior; Freezing process; Hydrophilic surfaces; Nanostructured surface; Water droplets, Freezing

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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© 2018 The Author(s), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2018