- Researchers from Northwestern University in the US, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne University in Australia teamed up to prevent water from bubbling when it boils by using tiny spheres coated with a hydrophobic material.
- The breakthrough capitalizes on the Leidenfrost effect, which states that when a liquid (say, water) comes into contact with a surface above the Leidenfrost threshold temperature, instead of simply bubbling and evaporating completely away, an insulating layer of vapor is created that protects the majority of the liquid from the searing surface temperatures.
- Because this vapor forms a layer between the water and the heating surface, the effect also reduces drag and has previously been shown to reduce in-water resistance by up to 85 percent.
The breakthrough has potential applications in improving the efficiency of heat transfer, anti-frost technology, and reducing drag on aquatic devices or vehicles. The lack of an explosive boil-to-bubble transition would also improve safety in large industrial applications, such as the heating and cooling of metals and the water-cooling used in nuclear power plants.