Research

Leidenfrost Without the Heat

A carbonated drop slides on a superhydrophobic surface.

Leidenfrost drops slide almost frictionlessly on a layer of their own vapor, generated by extremely hot surfaces nearby. But in this experiment researchers recreated many of the classic behaviors of a levitating Leidenfrost drop without the added heat. Instead, they supersaturated water droplets with carbon dioxide to create “fizzy droplets” that slide and self-propel along superhydrophobic surfaces.

Initially, the drops don’t levitate. It takes a little while for the carbon dioxide layer to build up beneath them, as seen by the slowly appearing interference fringes in the second image. But once the layer forms, the drops behave like conventional Leidenfrost drops until their carbon dioxide is depleted. They’re even able to self-propel on a racheted surface (third image)! (Image and research credit: D. Panchanathan et al.; via Physics World; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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