Table of Contents
Journal of Computational Methods in Physics
Volume 2013, Article ID 174806, 11 pages
Research Article

Quantitative Modeling of Faceted Ice Crystal Growth from Water Vapor Using Cellular Automata

Department of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Received 27 March 2013; Accepted 9 September 2013

Academic Editor: Xavier Ferrieres

Copyright © 2013 Kenneth G. Libbrecht. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We describe a numerical model of faceted crystal growth using a cellular automata method. The model was developed for investigating the diffusion-limited growth of ice crystals from water vapor, when the surface boundary conditions are determined primarily by strongly anisotropic molecular attachment kinetics. We restricted our model to cylindrically symmetric crystal growth with relatively simple growth morphologies, as this was sufficient for making quantitative comparisons between models and ice growth experiments. Overall this numerical model appears to reproduce ice growth behavior with reasonable fidelity over a wide range of conditions. More generally, the model could easily be adapted for other material systems, and the cellular automata technique appears well suited for investigating crystal growth dynamics when strongly anisotropic surface attachment kinetics yields faceted growth morphologies.