Cracking the structure of ice: establishing a cryogenic electron backscatter diffraction and Raman capability at UW–Madison
The structure and physical properties of ice determine the behavior of glaciers, ice sheets, and polar ice caps (both terrestrial and extraterrestrial). Moreover, ice is of interest because of its unique light transmission properties, which are currently being harnessed by one of the world’s largest astrophysical experiments through the UW–led IceCube collaboration.
This project will develop the capability to perform scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of water and CO2 ice in the UW–Madison Geoscience Department, focusing on electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis for ice microstructure and Raman spectroscopy for ice composition. EBSD of ice is an extremely rare analytical capability worldwide.
Having this highly specialized type of analysis capability for ice will enable advances in glaciology, climate science, physics, materials science and planetary science. This technology can accelerate research on glacial sliding and ice deformation, and inform long-standing questions about the transformation of air bubbles to clathrates in glacial ice and their potential as archives of Earth’s past atmosphere. In addition, understanding the structure of ice is critical, for example, to accurate measurement of cosmic ray interactions in the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.
As the only lab in the U.S. offering combined ice EBSD analysis and ice Raman analysis, UW–Madison will establish itself as a nexus for cryosphere research, attracting many collaborations from outside UW–Madison.
Chloe Bonamici, assistant professor of geoscience
Lucas Zoet, assistant professor of geoscience
Shaun Marcott, associate professor of geoscience
Justin Vandenbroucke, associate professor of physics/WIPAC
John Fournelle, senior scientist of geoscience
Pavana Prabhakar, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering
Richard Hartel, professor of food engineering
Hiroki Sone, assistant professor of geological engineering