Title: Ice Cream Physics

Speaker: Rob Groot


In this lecture I will discuss the physics of ice cream, a complex five-phase colloidal dispersion, and explain how it’s made on an industrial scale. Controlling the structure of ice cream requires insights in processes that take place on length scales that vary from nanometres to centimetres, and on time scales that run from nanoseconds to months. Hence, this is a truly multiscale problem. Next, I will give a historical overview of the 19 th to 21 st century physics of solidification in general and of ice growth in particular, where I focus on the appearance of growth instabilities and dendritic growth. Application to an ice cream system close to equilibrium has led to a theory of Ostwald ripening of (spherical) ice crystals under temperature variations [1,2] which has been validated by synchrotron radiation experiments [3]. Application to a system far from equilibrium is more challenging [4], but some qualitative insights are discussed. Finally, a patented idea is described which has potential implications for climate change and the energy transition [5].

[1] T. van Westen & R.D. Groot, Cryst. Growth Des. 18, 2405 (2018).

[2] T. van Westen & R.D. Groot, Cryst. Growth Des. 18, 4952 (2018).

[3] J. Mo et al., Crystals 9, 321 (2019).

[4] R.D. Groot, J. Comp. Phys. 372, 956 (2018).

[5] B. Domburg et al., WO 2020/048849 A1.

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