SLAC Colloquium Series

SLAC Colloquium Series


Colloquium Detail

The Many Facets of Snowflakes: A Close Look at the Genesis of Pattern and Form

Date: 11/12/2007

Ken Libbrecht
Cal Tech

Our understanding of the dynamics of growing crystals is remarkably primitive, and it is generally not possible to explain why even ordinary crystals develop their characteristic shapes. A case in point is the snow crystal (a.k.a. snowflake), which grows into a puzzling variety of unusual morphologies under different conditions. Although snow crystals result from a simple phase transition, some basic aspects of their growth have remained unexplained - even at a qualitative level - for over 75 years. Come to this talk and see snowflakes like you've never seen them before, find out how to grow electric ice needles in the lab, and learn what this all means for the fundamental physics of crystal growth and pattern formation. (For a preview, see

Last update: October 03, 2013