Dynamical mechanism of antifreeze proteins to prevent ice growth

Silke.Thoms [ at ] awi.de


The fascinating ability of algae, insects, and fishes to survive at temperatures below normal freezing is realized by antifreeze proteins (AFPs). These are surface-active molecules and interact with the diffusive water-ice interface thus preventing complete solidification. We propose a dynamical mechanism on how these proteins inhibit the freezing of water. We apply a Ginzburg-Landau-type approach to describe the phase separation in the two-component system (ice, AFP). The free-energy density involves two fields: one for the ice phase with a low AFP concentration and one for liquid water with a high AFP concentration. The time evolution of the ice reveals microstructures resulting from phase separation in the presence of AFPs. We observed a faster clustering of pre-ice structure connected to a locking of grain size by the action of AFP, which is an essentially dynamical process. The adsorption of additional water molecules is inhibited and the further growth of ice grains stopped. The interfacial energy between ice and water is lowered allowing the AFPs to form smaller critical ice nuclei. Similar to a hysteresis in magnetic materials we observe a thermodynamic hysteresis leading to a nonlinear density dependence of the freezing point depression in agreement with the experiments.

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Primary Division
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Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Eprint ID
DOI 10.1103/PhysRevE.90.022711

Cite as
Kutschan, B. , Morawetz, K. and Thoms, S. (2014): Dynamical mechanism of antifreeze proteins to prevent ice growth , Physical Review E, 90 , 022711-1 . doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.90.022711



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