Thursday, August 2, 2018

Phase diagram of snowflakes

I like "collecting" interesting phase diagrams, partly because they are fun to show students when teaching introductory thermodynamics. I recently discovered the one below that I feel I really should have known about. It shows the morphology of different snow crystals as a function of temperature and water supersaturation (relative to ice).
It should be pointed out that this is a non-equilibrium phase diagram as it involves supercooled liquid water.

The figure below is taken from the beautiful review
The physics of snow crystals 
Kenneth G Libbrecht

This diagram was originally constructed by Ukichiro Nakaya in the 1930's. The physics behind it is still poorly understood.

I came across the diagram while browsing through the Forces of Nature book by Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen.

While on the subject here is a nice video.

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