We're loathe to bring up Old Man Winter, but he's on the way and for many of us, that means scraping frost off windshields and sitting on airport tarmacs awaiting de-icing.
Scientists are sympathetic, especially Amy Betz, a professor in mechanical engineering at Kansas State University.
Betz and her colleagues have created a surface that takes three hours to frost under conditions that would normally create frost almost immediately.
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The surface they developed is made partly of microscopic areas that repel water and partly of microscopic areas that attract water.
To test how well the surface repelled frost, the scientists added water to the surface and then placed it into a chamber that had a controlled environment of 6 degrees C below freezing and a relative humidity of 60 percent. Under these conditions the combination surface took three hours to freeze.
That was much longer than any other surface the team tested.
As the surface cooled, the scientists noticed that small droplets of water - about 5 micrometers in size - initially formed in both the water-repelling and water-attracting areas.
But as the droplets got larger and merged with other droplets, they released a tiny amount of energy held in the surface tension and that seemed to be one reason the droplet didn't freeze right away.
Another reason could be that once the droplets had merged and become bigger, their mere size prevented them from freezing quickly.
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In these tests, the microscopic areas on the surface were round, but other shapes might delay frosting even longer, Betz said in a press release.
"We are currently working on a star shape that should maximize coalescence," she said.
Several industries in addition to airlines and automobiles could benefit from materials that take hours to frost up. Even the summer, refrigerators, air conditioners, and air-cooled condensers in power plants risk a build up of frost that lower the efficiency of such machines and even render them inoperable.
Who would think that frost could be such a problem in the summer?
Betz and her team reported their research today in the journal Applied Physics Letters.