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Published May 18, 2015 | Submitted
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An experimental apparatus for observing deterministic structure formation in plate-on-pedestal ice crystal growth


We describe an experimental apparatus for making detailed morphological observations of the growth of isolated plate-like ice crystals from water vapor. Each crystal develops a plate-on-pedestal (POP) geometry, in which a large, thin, plate-like crystal grows out from the top edge of an initially prismatic seed crystal resting on a substrate. With the POP geometry, the substrate is not in contact with the growing plate (except at its center), so substrate interactions do not adversely affect the crystal growth. By controlling the temperature and supersaturation around the crystal, we can manipulate the resulting ice growth behavior in predictable ways, producing morphologies spanning the full range from simple faceted hexagonal plates to complex dendritic structures. We believe that the experimental apparatus described here will allow unprecedented investigations of ice crystal growth behaviors under controlled conditions, identifying and exploring robust morphological features in detail. Such investigations will provide valuable observational inputs for developing numerical modeling techniques that can accurately reproduce the faceted and branched structures that frequently emerge during diffusion-limited crystal growth.

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October 23, 2023