The effect of solidification direction with respect to gravity on ice-templated TiO 2 microstructures

Kristen L. Scotti, Lauren G. Kearney, Jared Burns, Matthew Ocana, Lucas Duros, Aaron Shelhamer, David C. Dunand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Unidirectional ice-templating produces materials with aligned, elongated pores via: (i) directional solidification of particle suspensions wherein suspended particles are rejected and incorporated between aligned dendrites, (ii) sublimation of the solidified fluid, and (iii) sintering of the particles into elongated walls which are templated by the ice dendrites. Most ice-templating studies utilize upward solidification techniques, where solid ice is located at the bottom of the solidification mold (closest to the cold source), the liquid suspension is above the ice, and the solidification front advances upward, against gravity. Liquid water reaches its maximum density at 4 °C; thus, liquid nearest the solid/liquid interface, at 0ºC, is less dense than warmer liquid above (up to 4 °C, above which, a density inversion occurs, and liquid density decreases with increasing temperature). The lower density liquid nearest the solidification front is thus expected to rise due to buoyancy, promoting convective fluid motion in the liquid during solidification. Here, we investigate the effect of solidification direction with respect to the direction of gravity on ice-templated microstructures to study the role of buoyancy-driven fluid motion during solidification. We hypothesize that, for upward solidification, the convective fluid motion that results from the liquid density gradient occurs near the solidification front. For downward solidification, we expect that this fluid motion occurs farther away from the solidification front. Aqueous suspensions of TiO 2 nanoparticles (10–30 nm in size, 10, 15, and 21 vol.%) are solidified upward (against gravity, with ice on bottom and water on top), downward (water on bottom, ice on top), and horizontally (perpendicular to gravity). Microstructural investigation of sintered samples shows evidence of buoyancy-driven, convective fluid flow during solidification for samples solidified upwards (against gravity), including (i) tilting of the wall (and pore) orientation with respect to the induced temperature gradient, (ii) ice lens defects (cracks oriented perpendicular to the freezing direction), and (iii) radial macrosegregation. These features are not observed for downward nor horizontal solidification configurations, consistent with the hypothesis that convective fluid motion does not interact directly with the solidification front for downward solidification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3180-3193
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the European Ceramic Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Directional solidification
  • Freeze-casting
  • Ice banding
  • Porous ceramics
  • Rayleigh-Bénard convection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of solidification direction with respect to gravity on ice-templated TiO 2 microstructures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this