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Published August 1, 2012 | Submitted
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On the Equilibrium Shape of an Ice Crystal


We examine the shape of a an isolated, dislocation-free ice crystal when it is in equilibrium with the vapor phase in an isothermal closed environment, as a function of temperature. From our analysis we draw the following conclusions: 1) The equilibrium shape has not yet been definitively measured for ice crystals; 2) The surface energy anisotropy is likely cusp-like near the facet angles, and the size of the cusps can be estimated from crystal growth measurements; 3) The equilibrium shape is likely nearly spherical with only small faceted regions; 4) The time needed to reach equilibrium is likely prohibitively long, except under special circumstances; and 5) Surface energy effects likely play a relatively smaller role in ice crystal growth dynamics when compared to the role of attachment kinetics.

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August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023