Leidenfrost Pattern Formation and Boiling

Prasanth Prabhakaran, Alexei Krekhov, Eberhard Bodenschatz, Stephan Weiss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


We report on Leidenfrost patterns and boiling with compressed sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6 ). The experiments were carried out in a large aspect ratio Rayleigh–Bénard convection cell, where the distance between the horizontal plates is comparable with the capillary length of the working fluid. Pressures and temperatures were chosen such that the bottom plate was above and the top plate was below the liquid–vapor transition temperature of SF 6 . As a result, SF 6 vapor condenses at the top plate and forms drops that grow in size. Leidenfrost patterns are formed as the drops do not fall but levitate by the vapor released in the gap between the hot bottom plate and the colder drops. When the size of these drops became too large, one or more vapor bubbles—chimneys—form inside them. We determine the critical size for the formation of a chimney as a function of the capillary length. For even larger drops and extended puddles many disconnected chimneys occur that can grow to sizes large enough for the formation of new drops inside them. By varying the temperatures and the pressure in the system, we observe various such patterns. When the area covered by a puddle becomes large it touches the hot bottom plate locally and boils off rapidly. This can be attributed to a local reduction of the bottom plate surface temperature below the Leidenfrost temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-616
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of statistical physics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019


  • Fluids
  • Leidenfrost patterns
  • Pattern formation
  • Phase transition
  • Rayleigh–Taylor instability
  • Surface tension


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