Research

Explosive Boiling

A superheated liquid can reach temperatures higher than its boiling point without actually boiling – similar to how liquids can be supercooled below their freezing point without solidifying. The photo sequence above shows how explosive the boiling of a superheated water droplet submersed in sunflower oil can be. Image (a) in the lower left shows the superheated droplet resting on the bottom of its container. Then droplet vaporizes explosively in (b), expanding dramatically. The bubble overexpands and and begins to oscillate around its equilibrium radius. This triggers a Rayleigh-Taylor instability in the bubble’s interface, creating the large lobes in © and enlarged in the upper image. Finally, the bubble fragments in (d). See the original paper for more on superheated droplet boiling. (Image credit: M. A. J. van Limbeek et al.; via @AIP_Publishing)

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