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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-401
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-401
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

A pyroelectric thermal sensor for automated ice nucleation detection

Fred Cook1, Rachel Lord2, Gary Sitbon1, Adam Stephens1, Alison Rust2, and Walther Schwarzacher1 Fred Cook et al.
  • 1H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL, United Kingdom
  • 2School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, United Kingdom

Abstract. A new approach to automating droplet freezing assays is demonstrated by comparing the ice nucleating efficiency of a K-feldspar glass and a crystal with the same bulk composition. The method uses a pyroelectric polymer PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride) as a thermal sensor. PVDF is highly sensitive, cheap and readily available in a variety of sizes. As a droplet freezes latent heat is released, which is detected by the sensor. Each event is correlated with the temperature at which it occurred. The sensor has been used to detect microlitre volume droplets of water freezing, from which frozen proportion curves and nucleation rates can be quickly and automatically calculated. Our method shows glassy K-feldspar to be a poor nucleator compared to the crystalline form.

Fred Cook et al.

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Latest update: 17 Feb 2020
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Short summary
We present a cheap, adaptable and easily assembled thermal sensor for detecting microlitre droplets of water freezing. The sensor was developed to increase the level of automation in droplet array ice nucleation experiments, reducing the total amount of time required for each experiment. As proof of concept, we compare the ice nucleating efficiency of a crystalline and glassy sample of K-feldpsar. The glassy sample was found to be a less efficient ice nucleator at higher temperatures.
We present a cheap, adaptable and easily assembled thermal sensor for detecting microlitre...
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