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Electric Snowflake Crystal Growth

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Using electric fields to alter the growth of snow crystals

Caltech SnowCrystals.com

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Electric fields can affect the growth of ice crystals in several interesting ways, and can be used to grow long thin needles of crystalline ice (see the Designer's Page). The electric effects come about because electric fields influence the way water molecules diffuse through the air in the vicinity of the ice surface. If we charge up a growing crystal, then electrostatics dictates that strong electric fields will be set up around the crystal. The fields and field gradients will be particularly strong near any sharp points on the crystal. Since water molecules have an intrinsic electric polarizability, the electric fields tend to polarize the water molecules. If the field also has a strong gradient, then the polarized molecules are attracted in the direction of stronger fields.

Retrieved by DonEMitchell (talk) 14:53, 27 June 2014 (MDT) from http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/electric/electric.htm