How a YouTube video led to a Physics discovery

Scott Waitukaitis, Universiteit Leiden
Groenzaal (begane grond), 13.45-14.30 uur

The Leidenfrost effect is well-known to the chef — splash a bit of water on a
pan, and if it’s hot enough to cook a pancake, then the water magically glides
above the surface rather than boiling. While commonly associated with liquids,
it can also happen with stiff solids like dry ice. Inspired by a YouTube video, I’ve
recently exposed a new type of Leidenfrost effect that occurs with vaporizable
soft solids, e.g. hydrogels. Rather than hovering, such materials energetically
bounce and release ear piercing screeching noises. This phenomenon teaches
us a new way to harness mechanical energy, effectively creating ‘soft engines’
made from a single object and single material.

Dr. S.R. Waitukaitis
NWO Instituut AMOLF
Universiteit Leiden