"The resonator detected frost formation within seconds after the sensor was cooled below freezing," says graduate student Benjamin Wiltshire, the first author of the study. "It took about two minutes at -10°C for the frost to become visible on the resonator with the naked eye - and that's in one small area in ideal lab conditions. Imagine trying to detect ice over an entire wingspan during a blizzard."
While planar microwave resonator devices have demonstrated significant performance in sensing, monitoring, and characterizing solid, liquid, and gaseous materials, say the researchers, research on the detection of ice and frost has not been undertaken until now, despite the clear benefits of real-time, sensitive, and robust ice detection for transportation and safety applications.
"This is a brand-new method for detecting ice formation quickly and accurately," says Zarifi. "The radio-frequency and microwave technology can even be made wireless and contactless. I wouldn't be surprised if airlines start adopting the technology even for this upcoming winter."