Pattern Formation during Ice Crystal Growth (Ice Crystal) - 03.04.15

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Pattern Formation during Ice Crystal Growth (Ice Crystal) investigation examines the effect of microgravity on the pattern formation of ice crystals by a method of in-situ observation.
Science Results for Everyone
How fast do your arms grow? The dendrites, or arms, of ice crystals grown from low-super-cooled heavy water grew faster than models suggested, while those grown from high-super-cooled heavy water agreed with models. This suggests growth velocity is influenced more by face growth than tip asymmetry. Researchers also measured growth rates of crystal thickness and found that it changed suddenly with time, indicating growth rates of the two faces are not identical. This different growth rate has been suggested as a cause of distortion that leads to a hexagonal dendrite growing from a round ice crystal. Better understanding of ice crystal growth could be applied to their use in pharmaceuticals and development of new materials.

The following content was provided by Yoshinori Furukawa, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Yoshinori Furukawa, Ph.D., Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Etsuro Yokoyama, Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Katsuo Tsukamoto, Tohoku University, Japan
  • Yukihiro Takahashi, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
  • Shigenao Maruyama, Tohoku University, Japan
  • Yukio Saito, Keio University, Japan

  • Developer(s)
    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba, Japan

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Information Pending

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    October 2008 - April 2009

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
    Information Pending

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Crystals that are grown on Earth are affected by gravitational forces that disturb the fluid that surrounds the growing crystal. Crystals that are grown in microgravity are able to form without the influences of gravity.

    • The Pattern Formation during Ice Crystal Growth (Ice Crystal) investigation examines the mechanisms that cause the instability in ice crystals by observing the formation as it occurs.

    In order to precisely analyze the factors concerning the pattern formation of crystal growth, an ice crystal growing freely in supercooled bulk water will be observed in-situ using an interference microscope under microgravity condition, in which the free convection in the growth chamber cannot occur. Three-dimensional patterns of ice crystals and the thermal diffusion field around the crystal will be analyzed from the experimental results.

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    Space Applications
    Information Pending

    Earth Applications
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    Operational Requirements
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    Operational Protocols
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    Results/More Information

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    Results Publications

      Yokoyama E, Sekerka R, Furukawa Y.  Growth of an ice disk: dependence of critical thickness for disk instability on supercooling of water. Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 2009 April 9; 113(14): 4733-4738. DOI: 10.1021/jp809808r. PMID: 19275135.

      Yokoyama E, Yoshizaki I, Shimaoka T, Sone T, Kiyota T, Furukawa Y.  Measurements of Growth Rates of an Ice Crystal from Supercooled Heavy Water Under Microgravity Conditions: Basal Face Growth Rate and Tip Velocity of a Dendrite. Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 2011; 115(27): 8739-8745. DOI: 10.1021/jp110634t. PMID: 21631108.

      Yoshizaki I, Ishikawa T, Adachi S, Yokoyama E, Furukawa Y.  Precise Measurements of Dendrite Growth of Ice Crystals in Microgravity. Microgravity Science and Technology. 2012; 24(4): 245-253. DOI: 10.1007/s12217-012-9306-9.

      Adachi S, Yoshizaki I, Ishikawa T, Yokoyama E, Furukawa Y, Shimaoka T.  Stable growth mechanisms of ice disk crystals in heavy water. Physical Review E. 2011 November; 84(5): 051605. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.84.051605. PMID: 22181428.

      Adachi S, Yoshizaki I, Ishikawa T, Shimaoka T.  Stable growth of ice crystals under microgravity. Transactions of the Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Aerospace Technology Japan. 2014; 12(ists29): Ph_1-Ph_5. DOI: 10.2322/tastj.12.Ph_1.

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites
    Kibo Japanese Experiment Module
    Ice Crystals in Space - Understanding the Formation of Ice Cystals

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    image Initial image of Ice Crystal formation on the ISS during Expedition 18. Image courtesy of JAXA.
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    image Ice Crystal formation on the ISS during Expedition 18. Image courtesy of JAXA.
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    image Ground Support team at the JAXA Control Center during Ice Crystal operations on board ISS. Image courtesy of JAXA.
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