Coating from UCLA and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences is a hydrogel that inhibits the formation of ice using three anti-ice mechanisms.


  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Multifunctional


  • Automobiles
  • Aviation
  • Plumbing

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Undesired icing on surfaces can cause many safety issues, especially for aviation, during which ineffective de-icing could cause mechanical issues and even result in a plane crashing. Most anti-icing materials are expensive and only effective against one type of ice formation. For example, if the an anti-ice technique only lowers a liquid’s freezing point, the fluid can still attach to the surface and freeze if temperatures become colder.

Innovation Details

The coating is made of a polyelectrolyte hydrogel that is able to tackle the three main ice formation processes. First, the hydrogel inhibits ice nucleation (the way water vapor is usually triggered into freezing) with polyelectrolyte brushes controlled by ion specificity. Then, it prevents ice propagation by lowering the freezing temperature for water that touches it. Lastly, it makes the surface harder to grab onto by decreasing the ice adhesion strength. Altogether, this multifunctional material effectively prevents ice formation.

Biomimicry Story

Antartic fish have anti-freeze proteins in their blood that help them survive in the subfreezing habitats they live in. Not only do these proteins reduce the potential for ice crystal formation by lowering the freezing point of their blood and body fluids, they also attach to ice crystals that manage to form, which prevents them from propagating or growing larger.