The Leidenfrost Effect: How to Make Liquid Levitate

The Leidenfrost effect is what happens when liquid levitates, it is basically defying the laws of thermodynamics and all physics, or is it? According to the law of thermodynamics solids liquids and gases always change state depending on their boiling or melting point and whether or not they are subjected to this.

What if Something Touches Something Higher than it’s boiling Point

In 1976 German scientist Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost published some research on what he had observed when water started to levitate after being dropped onto a surface much hotter than it’s boiling point.

If you were to pour some water onto a boiling hot pan, it would appear to dance and zoom across the surface of the pan for a few minutes. This is the Leidenfrost effect and it happens because the bottom parts of the water droplets are evaporating at an extraordinary rate and  a pocket of vapour is created under the droplet, protecting it for a short time against the heat. The longer the water goes ricocheting around the surface, the more of it’s bottom layer is being boiled, which is known as film boiling. The pressure produced from this makes the water droplet levitate until eventually the droplet has all evaporated.

The Leidenfrost Maze

Scientists soon realised that this effect could be harnessed for use in scientific applications and so in 2012 they created a maze made up of grooved and heated surfaces designed to divert water droplets through it as they were being subjected to the Leidenfrost effect. This was furthered by replacing heat for water repelling chemicals in 2014 and this could have amazing uses in cooling machinery and understanding physics.

So the Leidenfrost effect doesn’t break physics, it just follows it in a sneaky way.