Sunday, February 17, 2019

Self-Propulsion of Inverse Leidenfrost Droplets Explained

I was not familiar at all with the Leidenfrost effect, even though I've heard the name. So when I read the article, I was fascinated by it. Unlike other people who want find the answers to the mysteries of the universe, etc... I went into physics because I was more curious about these small, little puzzles that, in the end, could have big impact and big outcome elsewhere. So thie Leidenfrost levitation phenomenon is right up my alley, and I'm kicking myself for not reading up on it sooner than this (or maybe they mentioned it in my advanced classical mechanics graduate course, and I overlooked it).

Anyhow, it appears that there is an inverse Leidenfrost self-propulsion, and a group of physicsts have managed to provide an explanation for it. the article describes both the Leidenfrost and inverse Leidenfrost propulsion, so you may read it for yourself. The research work[1], unfortunately, is currently available only via subscription. So you either need one for yourself, or log in to an organization that has site-wide access to it.

And look at the possible application for this seemingly mundane effect that grew out of a basic curiosity:

Gauthier’s team believe the effect could be used to develop efficient techniques for freezing and transporting biological materials including cells and proteins. With the help of simulations, they hope that this transport could occur with no risk of contamination or heat degradation to the materials.


[1] A. Gauthier et al. PNAS v.116, p.1174

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