Research

Leidenfrost On Ice

The three-phase Leidenfrost effect takes place with ice, water, and vapor all at once.

We’ve seen many forms of Leidenfrost effect — that wild, near-frictionless glide that liquid droplets make on a very hot surface — over the years, but here’s a new one: the three-phase Leidenfrost effect. Researchers found that they could generate a Leidenfrost effect using an ice disk placed on an extremely hot surface. During the effect, the ice and its melting layer of water glide on vapor, hence the name.

The team found that getting a three-phase Leidenfrost effect requires a much, much higher temperature than the regular Leidenfrost effect. Water will get its glide on at 150 degrees Celsius. Getting ice to glide on the same surface required a stunning 550 degrees Celsius! Why the big difference? The challenge is that water layer, which, by definition, has a 100-degree difference between its boiling side and its frozen boundary. It takes so much heat to maintain that layer that there’s little energy left over for evaporation; that’s why it takes so much more energy to get the three-phase Leidenfrost effect. (Image and research credit: M. Edalatpour et al.; via Ars Technica; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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