Reducing Ice Adhesion to Polyelectrolyte Surfaces by Counterion-Mediated Nonfrozen Hydration Water

Robert A. Biro, Eric C. Tyrode*, Esben Thormann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Hydrophilic anti-icing coatings can be energy-effective passive solutions for combating ice accretion and reducing ice adhesion. However, their underlying mechanisms of action remain inferential and are ill-defined from a molecular perspective. Here, we systematically investigate the influence of the counterion identity on the shear ice adhesion strength to cationic polymer coatings having quaternary alkyl ammonium moieties as chargeable groups. Temperature-dependent molecular information on the hydrated polymer films is obtained using total internal reflection (TIR) Raman spectroscopy, complemented with differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and ellipsometry. Ice adhesion measurements show a pronounced counterion-specific behavior with a sharp increase in adhesion at temperatures that depend on the anion identity, following the order Cl- < F- < SCN- < Br- < I-. Linked to the freezing of hydration water, the specific ordering results from differences in ion pairing and the amount of water present within the polymer film. Moreover, similar effects can be promoted by varying the cross-linking density in the coating while keeping the anion identity fixed. These findings shed new light on low ice adhesion mechanisms and may inspire novel approaches for improved anti-icing coatings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Pages (from-to)21356-21365
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Ice adhesion
  • Anti-icing
  • Polymers
  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Counterions
  • Hydration water
  • Freezing point depression


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