BINARY: an optical freezing array for assessing temperature and time dependence of heterogeneous ice nucleation
Abstract. A new optical freezing array for the study of heterogeneous ice nucleation in microliter-sized droplets is introduced, tested and applied to the study of immersion freezing in aqueous Snomax® suspensions. In the Bielefeld Ice Nucleation ARraY (BINARY) ice nucleation can be studied simultaneously in 36 droplets at temperatures down to −40 °C (233 K) and at cooling rates between 0.1 and 10 K min−1. The droplets are separated from each other in individual compartments, thus preventing a Wegener–Bergeron–Findeisen type water vapor transfer between droplets as well as avoiding the seeding of neighboring droplets by formation and surface growth of frost halos. Analysis of freezing and melting occurs via an automated real-time image analysis of the optical brightness of each individual droplet. As an application ice nucleation in water droplets containing Snomax® at concentrations from 1 ng mL−1 to 1 mg mL−1 was investigated. Using different cooling rates, a small time dependence of ice nucleation induced by two different classes of ice nucleators (INs) contained in Snomax® was detected and the corresponding heterogeneous ice nucleation rate coefficient was quantified. The observed time dependence is smaller than those of other types of INs reported in the literature, suggesting that the BINARY setup is suitable for quantifying time dependence for most other INs of atmospheric interest, making it a useful tool for future investigations.