Researchers have studied the underlying mechanisms of water condensation in the troposphere and found a way to make artificial materials to control water condensation and trigger ice formation at room temperature. Their work may lead to new additives for snowmaking, improved freezer systems, or new coatings that help grow ice for skating rinks.
Scientists had predicted that materials with crystal faces exhibiting a structure similar to that of hexagonal ice, the form of all natural snow and ice on Earth, would be an ideal agent to induce freezing and trigger rain.
Barium fluoride (BaF2), a naturally occurring mineral, was studied.
Despite having the desired hexagonal structure, BaF2 turned out to be a poor ice-nucleating material. But when the mineral's surface has defects, its condensation efficiency is enhanced. They are now preparing artificial materials to improve water condensation in a controllable way.
The researchers' goal now is to produce environmentally-friendly synthetic materials for efficiently inducing snow.