Grain sizes, surface areas, and porosities of vapor-deposited H2O ices used to simulate planetary icy surfaces

C. S. Boxe, B. R. Bodsgard, W. Smythe, M. T. Leu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Mean grain sizes and specific surface areas (SSAs) of ice substrates formed by vapor deposition at low temperatures are of importance in simulating external surfaces of icy satellites in the solar system. Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) was used to obtain granule sizes and to observe the phase of ice granules prepared on borosilicate, silicon, and metallic plates. Ices prepared at a temperature lower than 140 K appear to be amorphous, and their granule sizes are typically submicrometer. At slightly warmer temperatures, near 180-200 K, ice films are composed of either hexagonal or cubic granules with sizes up to a few micrometers. When briefly annealed to even warmer temperatures, ice granule sizes approach ∼ 10   μm. SSAs of ice substrates were determined from BET (Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller) analysis of gas adsorption isotherms in the temperature range from 83.5 to 261 K. SSAs decrease drastically from 102 m2/g at 83.5 K to 0.87 m2/g at 150 K and further decrease slowly to 0.22 m2/g at 261 K, suggesting that the transition from amorphous to crystalline forms occurs at ∼ 150   K. The overall decrease in SSAs is primarily due to metamorphism and sintering. These results are comparable to recent field and laboratory measurements. Possible implications for theoretical models of icy satellites of outer planets using remote sensing techniques are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-418
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Grain sizes, surface areas, and porosities of vapor-deposited H2O ices used to simulate planetary icy surfaces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this