The severe environmental conditions in winter seasons and/or cold climate regions cause many inconveniences in our routine daily-life, related to blocked road infrastructure, interrupted overhead telecommunication, internet and high-voltage power lines or cancelled flights due to excessive ice and snow accumulation. With the tremendous and nature-inspired development of physical, chemical and engineering sciences in the last few decades, novel strategies for passively combating the atmospheric and condensation icing have been put forward. The primary objective of this review is to reveal comprehensively the major physical mechanisms regulating the ice accretion on solid surfaces and summarize the most important scientific breakthroughs in the field of functional icephobic coatings. Following this framework, the present article introduces the most relevant concepts used to understand the incipiency of ice nuclei at solid surfaces and the pathways of water freezing, considers the criteria that a given material has to meet in order to be labelled as icephobic and clarifies the modus operandi of superhydrophobic (extremely water-repellent) coatings for passive icing protection. Finally, the limitations of existing superhydrophobic/icephobic materials, various possibilities for their unconventional practical applicability in cryobiology and some novel hybrid anti-icing systems are discussed in detail.
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