Art

Leidenfrost on Water

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When a skillet is hot enough, water droplets will skitter across the surface almost frictionlessly thanks to the Leidenfrost effect. The incredibly high temperature of the surface relative the the liquid’s boiling point causes part of the drop to vaporize, enveloping the remainder of the liquid in a protective vapor cocoon. 

We see this effect for more than just solid surfaces, though. This video demonstrates how pouring liquid nitrogen on a pool of water creates plenty of Leidenfrost weirdness as well. It looks as though the initial pour freezes some condensation to dust or other particles, which then stream outwards on a cloud of vapor. Larger droplets of liquid nitrogen actually manage to hold together on the pool’s surface. Their vapor keeps them from touching the water, but that flow also jostles them, creating a ring of ripples around the jiggling drop. (Video and image credit: Science Marshal)

Animation of a droplet of liquid nitrogen skittering on water

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