Research

Leidenfrost Explosions

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When a drop of water touches a very hot pan, it will skitter across the surface on a thin layer of water vapor due to the Leidenfrost effect. But what happens when another chemical is added to the droplet? Researchers find that adding a surfactant to the water droplets creates some spectacular results. As the water evaporates, the concentration of the surfactant in the droplet increases causing the surfactant to form a shell around the droplet. The pressure inside the droplet increases until the shell breaks in a miniature explosion much like the popping of popcorn. (Video credit: F. Moreau et al.)

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