Phenomena

Digging Droplets

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A droplet on a surface much hotter than its boiling point will skate on a layer of its own vapor, thanks to the Leidenfrost effect. But if that surface is, instead, a granular mixture like this glass powder, the droplet will dig itself a hole.

As in the usual Leidenfrost situation, the heat of the powder causes part of the drop to vaporize. But as that vapor flows away, it carries powder with it. At the same time, the vaporization process causes the droplet to vibrate violently, which frees more powder and helps the drop dig deeper. Eventually, the drop will vaporize completely, leaving a volcano-like crater in the powder. (Image and video credit: C. Kalelkar and H. Sai)

A water droplet falls on heated glass powder, which it then digs its way into.
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