Frost-free zone on macrotextured surfaces

Yuehan Yao, Tom Y. Zhao, Christian Machado, Emma Feldman, Neelesh A. Patankar, Kyoo Chul Park*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have focused on designing functional surfaces that delay frost formation or reduce ice adhesion. However, solutions to the scientific challenges of developing antiicing surfaces remain elusive because of degradation such as mechanical wearing. Inspired by the discontinuous frost pattern on natural leaves, here we report findings on the condensation frosting process on surfaces with serrated structures on the millimeter scale, which is distinct from that on a conventional planar surface with microscale/ nanoscale textures. Dropwise condensation, during the first stage of frosting, is enhanced on the peaks and suppressed in the valleys, causing frost to initiate from the peaks, regardless of surface chemistry. The condensed droplets in the valley are then evaporated due to the lower vapor pressure of ice compared with water, resulting in a frost-free zone in the valley, which resists frost propagation even on superhydrophilic surfaces. The dependence of the frost-free areal fraction on the geometric parameters and the ambient conditions is elucidated by both numerical simulations based on steady-state diffusion and an analytical method with an understanding of boundary conditions independent of surface chemistry. We envision that this study would provide a unified framework to design surfaces that can spatially control frost formation, crystal growth, diffusion-controlled growth of biominerals, and material deposition over a broad range of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6323-6329
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 24 2020


  • Antifrosting
  • Bioinspiration
  • Condensation frosting
  • Diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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