Does hydrophilicity of carbon particles improve their ice nucleation ability?

J Phys Chem A. 2014 Sep 4;118(35):7330-7. doi: 10.1021/jp4118375. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


Carbonaceous particles account for 10% of the particulate matter in the atmosphere. Atmospheric oxidation and aging of soot modulates its ice nucleation ability. It has been suggested that an increase in the ice nucleation ability of aged soot results from an increase in the hydrophilicity of the surfaces upon oxidation. Oxidation, however, also impacts the nanostructure of soot, making it difficult to assess the separate effects of soot nanostructure and hydrophilicity in experiments. Here we use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the effect of changes in hydrophilicity of model graphitic surfaces on the freezing temperature of ice. Our results indicate that the hydrophilicity of the surface is not in general a good predictor of ice nucleation ability. We find a correlation between the ability of a surface to promote nucleation of ice and the layering of liquid water at the surface. The results of this work suggest that ordering of liquid water in contact with the surface plays an important role in the heterogeneous ice nucleation mechanism.