Scientists Say: Sublimation

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

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.

RICHARD WHEELER/WIKIPEDIA (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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.

Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter

Bethany is the staff writer at Science News for Students. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

More Stories from Science News for Students on Chemistry