Research

Going Supercritical

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Supercritical fluids exist at temperatures and pressures above the critical point, in a region of the phase diagram where there is no clear boundary between the liquid and gaseous state. Supercritical fluids have some of the properties of each state: they can move as freely as a gas, but they are still capable of dissolving materials like a liquid does. They also have no surface tension because there is no interface between liquid and solid. These properties make supercritical fluids very useful in industrial applications, including decaffeination and chemical deposition. Interestingly, the temperatures and pressures on Venus are so high that scientists think the atmosphere at the surface is a supercritical fluid. (Video credit: SCFED Project)

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