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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2017-1213
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 May 2018

Research article | 08 May 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The Quasi-Liquid Layer of ice revisited: the role of temperature gradients and tip chemistry in AFM studies

Julián Gelman Constantin1,2,a, Melisa M. Gianetti2, María P. Longinotti2, and Horacio R. Corti1,2 Julián Gelman Constantin et al.
  • 1Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada, Centro Atómico Constituyentes, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, San Martín, B1650KNA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 2Instituto de Química Física de los Materiales, Medio Ambiente y Energía (UBA-CONICET), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EGA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • acurrent address: División de Química Atmosférica, Centro Atómico Constituyentes, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, San Martín, B1650KNA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Abstract. In this work, we present new results of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) force curves over pure ice at different temperatures, performed with two different environmental chambers and different kind of AFM tips. Our results provide insight to resolve the controversy on the interpretation of experimental AFM curves on the ice-air interface for determining the thickness of the quasi-liquid layer (QLL). The use of a mini environmental chamber, that provides an accurate control of the temperature and humidity of the gases in contact with the sample, allowed us for the first time to get force curves over the ice-air interface without jump-in (jumps of the tip onto the ice surface, widely observed in previous studies). These results suggest a QLL thickness below 1nm within the explored temperature range (−7ºC to −2ºC). This upper bound is significantly lower than most of the previous AFM results, which suggests that previous authors overestimate the equilibrium QLL thickness, due to temperature gradients, or indentation of ice during the jump-in. Additionally, we proved that the hydrophobicity of AFM tips affects significantly the results of the experiments. Overall, this work shows that, if one chooses properly the experimental conditions, the QLL thicknesses obtained by AFM lay over the lower bound of the highly disperse results reported in the literature. This allows estimating upper boundaries for the QLL thicknesses, which is relevant to validate QLL theories, and to improve multiphase atmospheric chemistry models.

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Latest update: 15 Jul 2018
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Short summary
Numerous studies have shown that ice surface is actually coated by a thin layer of water even for temperatures below melting temperature. This quasi-liquid layer is relevant in the atmospheric chemistry of clouds, polar regions, glaciers, and other cold regions. We present new results of Atomic Force Microscopy on pure ice, which suggests a thickness for this layer below 1 nm between −7 ºC and −2 ºC. We propose that in many cases previous authors have overestimated this thickness.
Numerous studies have shown that ice surface is actually coated by a thin layer of water even...
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