Freezing Impact

When a water droplet hits a frozen surface, what happens depends significantly on the temperature of the substrate. At relatively high temperatures (-20 degrees C), the droplet freezes without any cracking (upper left). As the surface gets colder, drops begin to crack. At first the cracks are relatively large and unstructured (upper right), but at lower temperatures, they grow in a network of smaller cracks with more distinctive structure (lower left). Cold temperatures can also affect the contact line where water, air, and substrate meet. This can cause droplets to splash even as they’re freezing (lower right). (Image credit: V. Thievenaz et al.; see also E. Ghabache et al.)

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