Luminescent Ice

Tech ID: 21-030

Inventors: Hirotaka Sakaue, Joseph Gonzales

Date Added: May 19, 2021


Ice that can detect temperature and phase changes

Technology Summary

21 030

The change of basic states of matter from one state (solid, liquid, gas) to another state is known as a phase-change. The phase-changes of water, particularly from liquid to solid, present a number of difficulties for aircraft operating at higher altitudes. For example, ice crystal icing can damage aircraft engines when planes encounter increased moisture in high altitudes due to convective weather events. These ice crystals are too small to be seen by the naked eye and are invisible to on-board weather radar and ice-detectors. Many temperature and moisture measurement techniques exist but are limited in that they are unable to spatially and temporally resolve internal properties of a solid over time making it difficult to detect direct phase changes in water or ice. This potential hazard extends beyond just the aviation industry and thus requires a more efficient and effective detection method.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a novel three-dimensional, spatially resolved, phase change detection and temperature measurement method using a novel chemical-based luminescent ice sensor. When excited by short wavelength light, the luminescent output of certain luminescent molecules is sensitive to properties like temperature, pH, and oxygen concentration. In the novel chemical sensor, a difference in temperature and phase produces different luminescent outputs due to the relative distance between water molecules in liquid and ice phases. The sensor easily differentiates between different basic states of matter in three dimensions and provides a spatially resolved temperature measurement. By employing optical filtering and high-speed cameras, changes in luminescence, and thus spatiotemporal phase change and temperature information can be detected and measured.

Market Advantages

  • Visualization of icing
  • Directly detects the phase changes- not reliant solely on temperature and moisture measurements
  • Can be used in fluid dynamic measurements and structure analysis

Market Applications

Manufacturing & operation of:

  • Aircraft engines
  • Automobile engines
  • HVAC systems
  • Refrigeration systems

Technology Readiness Level

TRL 4 – Technology Validated in Lab


Luminescent Ice Sensor for Internal Property Measurement During Impact. doi: 10.2514/6.2021-1511

Intellectual Property Status

Patent Pending


Richard Cox