Final fate of a Leidenfrost droplet: Explosion or takeoff

Sijia Lyu, Varghese Mathai, Yujie Wang, Benjamin Sobac, Pierre Colinet, Detlef Lohse, Chao Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


When a liquid droplet is placed on a very hot solid, it levitates on its own vapor layer, a phenomenon called the Leidenfrost effect. Although themechanisms governing the droplet's levitation have been explored, not much is known about the fate of the Leidenfrost droplet. Here we report on the final stages of evaporation of Leidenfrost droplets. While initially small droplets tend to take off, unexpectedly, the initially large ones explode with a crack sound. We interpret these in the context of unavoidable droplet contaminants, which accumulate at the dropletair interface, resulting in reduced evaporation rate, and contact with the substrate. We validate this hypothesis by introducing controlled amounts ofmicroparticles and reveal a universal 1/3-scaling law for the dimensionless explosion radius versus contaminant fraction. Our findings open up new opportunities for controlling the duration and rate of Leidenfrost heat transfer and propulsion by tuning the droplet's size and contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaav8081
JournalScience advances
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


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