Universiteit Leiden

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FRESH Lecture: Probing the surface of ice with nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy

Thursday 5 March 2020
Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden

We studied the molecular-scale properties of the surface of ice with heterodyne-detected surface sum-frequency generation (HD-SFG) using femtosecond mid-infrared light pulses. This technique measures the vibrational spectrum of molecules at interfaces with a probing depth of only a few molecular layers.

We find that the vibrational spectrum of the top molecular layers of an ice crystal strongly resembles the surface vibrational spectrum of liquid water, even at ~30 degrees below the melting point. This liquid-like layer is also observed when the ice surface is covered with a protein layer. An exception is the hyperactive anti-freeze protein RmAFP of the beetle Rhagium Mordax. We will discuss the relation between the effect of RmAFP on the top molecular layers of ice and its antifreeze working mechanism.


  1. W.J. Smit and H.J. Bakker, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 56, 15540 (2017).
  2. K. Meister et al. J. Chem. Phys. Comm. 150, 131101 (2019).
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