Scientists Say: Sublimation

This is what happens when matter goes straight from solid to gas

dry ice

This ice won’t leave a puddle behind. It’s dry ice — frozen carbon dioxide. At room temperature, it undergoes sublimation — transforming from a solid to a gas.


Sublimation (noun, “SUB-lim-A-shun”)

This is the process in which a substance goes directly from a solid state to a gas, without passing through the liquid phase. Matter exists in four phases: solid, liquid, gas and plasma. As matter heats up, solid melts to liquid, liquid evaporates to gas and gas becomes a plasma. But when the right conditions are met, a solid can sublimate, going straight from a solid to a gas.  

In a sentence

If you’ve ever watched dry ice steam, you’ve watched the sublimation of frozen carbon dioxide.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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