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Published on Sep 13, 2012
More at http://cenm.ag/boil and Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature11418. It looks pretty cool when water skitters across the surface of a hot frying pan. But that same phenomenon, called the Leidenfrost effect, can be big trouble for equipment exposed to water at high temperatures, such as nuclear reactors, because sometimes the transition away from it leads to explosive boiling. An international team of researchers has now developed a strategy that tames the process. They started with steel spheres, then applied a patented coating which is normally used to keep rain from accumulating on car side mirrors. The coating renders the spheres super-water-repellent. And it leads to smooth, nearly bubble-less boiling.