The Leidenfrost Effect: How to Make a Liquid Levitate | Summary and Q&A

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February 17, 2015
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The Leidenfrost Effect: How to Make a Liquid Levitate

TL;DR

The Leidenfrost effect is when a liquid hovers over a superheated surface instead of boiling away, due to a vapor cushion created by rapidly turning into vapor. Scientists are exploring ways to control and utilize this effect for various applications.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the Leidenfrost effect?

The Leidenfrost effect occurs when a liquid hovers over a superheated surface, forming a vapor cushion that prevents it from boiling away immediately.

Q: Who discovered the Leidenfrost effect?

The Leidenfrost effect is named after Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost, a German physician who published a scientific paper on the phenomenon in 1756.

Q: How are Leidenfrost droplets able to move erratically on a heated surface?

The low friction between the liquid and the surface, coupled with disturbances in the vapor cushion caused by escaping gas molecules, causes the droplets to move erratically.

Q: What applications could the Leidenfrost effect have?

The controlled movement of Leidenfrost droplets has potential applications in fields such as pharmaceuticals, physics, micro-cooling electronics, and ink-jet printing.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Leidenfrost effect occurs when a liquid comes into contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point, causing it to hover on a vapor cushion instead of boiling away.

  • The droplets experience film boiling and move erratically due to disturbances in the vapor cushion, propelled by escaping gas molecules.

  • Scientists are exploring ways to control and utilize the movement of Leidenfrost droplets for applications in micro-cooling electronics and ink-jet printing.

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