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Lifshitz theory of wetting films at three phase coexistence: The case of ice nucleation on Silver Iodide (AgI)

Juan Luengo-Márquez, Luis G. MacDowell
Journal of colloid and interface science 2021 v.590 pp. 527-538
adsorption, air, ice, ice nucleation, iodides, van der Waals forces, water vapor
As a fluid approaches three phase coexistence, adsorption may take place by the successive formation of two intervening wetting films. The equilibrium thickness of these wetting layers is the result of a delicate balance of intermolecular forces, as dictated by an underlying interface potential. The van der Waals forces for the two variable adsorption layers may be formulated exactly from Dzyaloshinskii-Lifshitz-Pitaevskii theory, and analytical approximations may be derived that extent well beyond the validity of conventional Hamaker theory.We consider the adsorption equilibrium of water vapor on Silver Iodide where both ice and a water layers can form simultaneously and compete for the vapor as the triple point is approached. We perform numerical calculations of Lifshitz theory for this complex system and work out analytical approximations which provide quantitative agreement with the numerical results.At the three phase contact line between AgI/water/air, surface forces promote growth of ice both on the AgI/air and the water/vapor interfaces, lending support to a contact nucleation mode of AgI in the atmosphere. Our approach provides a framework for the description of adsorption at three phase coexistence, and allows for the study of ice nucleation efficiency on atmospheric aerosols.