Leidenfrost Effect as a Directed Percolation Phase Transition

Pierre Chantelot*, Detlef Lohse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Volatile drops deposited on a hot solid can levitate on a cushion of their own vapor, without contacting the surface. We propose to understand the onset of this so-called Leidenfrost effect through an analogy to nonequilibrium systems exhibiting a directed percolation phase transition. When performing impacts on superheated solids, we observe a regime of spatiotemporal intermittency in which localized wet patches coexist with dry regions on the substrate. We report a critical surface temperature, which marks the upper bound of a large range of temperatures in which levitation and contact coexist. In this range, with decreasing temperature, the equilibrium wet fraction increases continuously from zero to one. Also, the statistical properties of the spatiotemporally intermittent regime are in agreement with that of the directed percolation universality class. This analogy allows us to redefine the Leidenfrost temperature and shed light on the physical mechanisms governing the transition to the Leidenfrost state.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124502
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2021


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