Talk:Sublimation (phase transition)

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Early text[edit]

I'll defer to chemists on this one, but I had thought that the term was usually used in the form sublimation. That would seem like a natural disambig, with this article being about the band. Any thoughts? Tokerboy 03:22 Nov 11, 2002 (UTC)

Shouldn't "sublimation" be a disamiguation page?

I agree. This page should be "Sublimation (physics)" and another should be "Sublimation (psychology)". -- Mike Hardy

(William M. Connolley 09:58, 2004 Apr 17 (UTC)) Being picky... why is this page sublimation (chemistry) not sub (physics)? On the grounds that chemistry is for reactions and stuff.

Good point. Mike Simpson 05:51, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Third time's a charm... done! –radiojon 02:24, 2004 Jun 30 (UTC)

This article should be part of both the Chemistry portal and the Physics portal. It is a typical physical-chemistry topic. Chemistry is not just "reactions and stuff".


jun 13 11

Yes. Well one would have to look at the literal meaning of the word, and the different forms of the word firstly. Now if sublime isn't a form of the word sublimation, I'm sadly mistaken. Also when you ask, what is the noun, then you begin to get disconnects. Surely sublimate is the noun. Which would be, that which was sublimed, or has gone through the process of sublimation.

more thoughts later ---- ________- — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jeffrey mcmahan (talkcontribs) 01:49, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

end of J.M. cite ----

another definition sublimation is a type of evaporation in which a solid changes directly to a gas without going through a liquid state.

The definition in the article should read:
"Sublimation of an element or compound is the direct transition from the solid to the gas phase".

The fact that "the liquid phase cannot be observed" is not a question of rapidity. It simply does not occur. In other words, sublimation involves neither fusion (solid to liquid transition) nor vaporisation (liquid to gas).

If one describes sublimation as "a type of evaporation", it should be clearly stated that it is a different process from vaporisation which is the liquid to gas transition.

The english verb "sublimate" and the noun "sublimation" should be used throughout to describe the transition from the solid to the gas phase.

Can this word be correctly used to describe the loss of moisture content in snow in extremly cold subfreezing tempertures ?

Yes, that is exactly what happens.

Webster's 8th Collegiate (1977) uses, in our physics (or physical chemistry) realm:

  • the verb sublime in two explicitly distinct ways:
    1. (intransitive verb, of a solid) To pass directly to vapor, without implication as to its further fate.
    2. (transitive verb) To cause a solid to pass directly to vapor, and then back to solid. (Note that this is analogous to distillation, and can purify the material (transform it into something "sublime") by either leaving behind a substantially less volatile impurity that doesn't vaporize with it, or converting a volatile impurity back to solid at a different location (with a higher or lower temperature) than where the desired material solidifies).
  • the verb sublimate only as a synonym for the transitive ("round-trip") version.
  • the noun sublimation only as being derived from the transitive ("round-trip") version.

That is to say, for them, "to sublimate" may involve conversion from vapor to solid, but they imply it is applicable to conversion from vapor to solid only when direct conversion from solid to vapor has preceded it as part of an overall process.

In contrast,

  • Our first 'graph says in its first sentence (emphasis supplied)
    conversion between the solid and the gaseous phases ...
and its second sentence (the triple-point discussion) says "phase transition", in both cases without restricting the direction of the "conversion" or "transition", all but saying that vapor to solid without liquid, and no matter how the vapor is obtained, is an instance.
  • Our final 'graph says
    The opposite of sublimation is deposition. The formation of frost is an example of deposition
all but saying that "deposition" is never an instance of sublimation.
  • The text of the article in between gives fairly specific examples of solid to vapor, with the only reference to deposition being that of deposition after S->V conversion, in the case of printing by dye sublimation.

IMO, our article is probably using "sublimate" with either

  • one definition that admits to 3 cases (S->V, V->S, & round-trip), and is inconsistent with either of the Web Coll defintions, each of which admits to only one of those three cases, and excludes the one-way V->S case, or
  • different editors have focused on two or three different definitions, without ever acknowledging that more than one exists, much less that more than one is in use in the article.

And while we're at it, we use

  • sublimation three times (plus title),
  • sublimate four, and
  • sublime once,

without explicitly specifying their relationships.

I'll look at some bigger dictionaries, but i'd love to have someone pre-empt my impending editing spree.
--Jerzy(t) 09:26, 2005 Feb 8 (UTC)

Good news: Amer. Her. Dict. supports all of our usages; IMO we've got the facts straight, and all that's needed is

  • to make the distinctions
    • among the 3 cases, and
    • between transitive and intr.,
  • to be consist in using "sublimate" rather than "sublime",
  • and to mention that "sublime" is neither preferred nor incorrect.

--Jerzy(t) 16:38, 2005 Feb 8 (UTC)

I know that this debate was carried out some time back but on reading through I feel I should add that the dictionaries quoted are not authorities for International English generally as they reflect specifically American usage in this respect. Elsewhere in English-speaking countries the generally-accepted form is 'sublime' for the verb and 'sublimate' for the substance that forms after sublimation. The OED, which I think is more widely consulted than Webster's states that both forms are used but that sublime is the original form for the verb and sublimate is of more limited use (possibly as a result of back formation from the word sublimation). Sublimate is of ancient usage as a noun.--AssegaiAli (talk) 12:42, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Sublimation of ice[edit]

I've reverted the edit by User:Jgassens, which said that ice at temperatures below the freezing point of water does not sublimate except at low pressures. This is a common misconception, but anyone who has seen their ice cubes shrink in their freezer has seen the sublimation in action. What matters is the partial pressure of water (also see vapor pressure): if it is below the pressure for the solid-vapor equilibrium as seen in the the phase diagram, the solid will sublimate until that pressure is reached (which for an open system in a dry environment won't happen, so all of the ice will sublimate). If it is above the equilibrium pressure, the vapor will deposit on the solid until the pressure reaches the equilibrium. If the partial pressure of water is at its equilibrium value, nothing will seem to happen, but microscopically there is still sublimation and deposition going on with equal rates, resulting in a dynamic equilibrium.

This is the exact same situation as for iodine. Dry ice is different becase, at 1 atm, it is below the pressure of the triple point, which means that not only one sees sublimation, but also there is no way of having liquid CO2 at any temperature (at 1 atm). Itub 16:16, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Deposition of water[edit]

The article states that formation of frost is an example of deposition, yet the phase diagram for water shows that this is not possible. The water vapor must first turn into a liquid before it can turn into a solid, because the pressure is not low enough for deposition to occur.

Here is a phase diagram for reference:

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Cannonstudent (talkcontribs) 2006-11-17T14:53:27.

See the discussion about the sublimation of ice above. What matters is the partial pressure of water, which at low temperatures is below the triple point. Itub 08:31, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Odd Beginning[edit]

"ALL ELEMENTS SUMBLIMATE!!!!!!" seems very unprofessional. I suggest a removal. -- 01:33, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Nevermind, appears to be fixed-- 01:35, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

New research (moved from article page)[edit]

Added by Vortex150:

"Sublimation is not actually correct. The solid phase actually goes through a liquid phase, at the surface of the solid, before a gas, called a two-step phase transition. See the following research paper on 21 April 2008. [1]"

Cheers Freestyle-69 (talk) 21:20, 16 February 2009 (UTC)


We must change category because the opposite of something (chemistry) may not be somethingelse (physics).--Xoristzatziki (talk) 11:57, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Freeze drying[edit]

If I'm mistaken (and I could very well be), hanging wet cloth outdoors in freezing weather is generally a bad idea, unless the humidity is very low, as the liquid water in the cloth will simply freeze solid. According to the freeze-drying article, this is a more complicated procedure, used to preserve perishable material, not to dry your laundry. In any case, someone knowledgeable on this subject should change the section on sublimation of water to clarify. (talk) 08:30, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

It looks like a series of incrementally bad edits created the unusual practice known as "Freeze Drying" laundry:
20 July 2005 (original)
This allows wet cloth to be hung outdoors in freezing weather and retrieved later in a dry state, and is also the process used in freeze drying.
July 2006
This , used in freeze drying, wet cloth toutdoors in freezing weather retrieved later in a dry state.
Nov 2010 (today)
This phenomenon , by hanging wet cloth outdoors in freezing weather time.
Apparently there are people living in cold climates who do dry their clothes outside in freezing weather. As far as I can tell, sublimation of frozen clothes is not preferred over the standard evaporation that sunny days engender.
astupid. However, the witnessing of frozen clothing becoming dry does not seem like a common enough event to warrant its inclusion in the article on "Sublimation". But I am not removing the clothes drying thing altogether because I live in California and sport significant cold-weather ignorance. (talk) 09:51, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Sublimation in physics[edit]

This section contains statements which are either incorrect-unintellegible, or redundant (already reported elsewhere in the article).

So, if there are no objections, I will completely remove it --GianniG46 (talk) 17:42, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Recombination in "See Also"[edit]

The "See Also" section of this article includes a link for Plasma->Gas transitions, labeled "Recombination" but links to Carrier generation and recombination; which seems to have nothing to do with either plasma or gas (that article is about semiconductors). I think it's supposed to link to Plasma recombination. I'd edit it, but I have no idea how as the table in the "See Also" section does not appear anywhere in this article's "Edit" page. Draconx (talk) 21:12, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

it is also that it is a transformation directly from the solid phase to the gaseous phase without passing through an intermediate liquid phase-- (talk) 12:17, 1 October 2012 (UTC)-- (talk) 12:17, 1 October 2012 (UTC)-- (talk) 12:17, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

At normal pressures, most chemical compounds and elements possess three different states at different temperatures. In these cases, the transition from the solid to the gaseous state requires an intermediate liquid state. Note, however, that the pressure referred to here is the partial pressure of the substance, not the total (e.g., atmospheric) pressure of the entire system. So, all solids that possess an appreciable vapor pressure at a certain temperature usually can sublime in air (e.g., water ice just below 0°C). For some substances, such as carbon and arsenical, sublimation is much easier than evaporation from the melt, because the pressure of their triple point is very high, and it is difficult to obtain them as liquids. Sublimation requires additional energy and is an endothermic change. The enthalpy of sublimation (also called heat of sublimation) can be calculated as the enthalpy of fusion plus the enthalpy of vaporization. The reverse process of sublimation is deposition. The formation of frost is an example of meteorological deposition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:19, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Removed steaming poles image[edit]

I went ahead and removed the photo of the steaming poles. The image description states that strong sunlight was shining on the ice-covered poles in air temperatures "just above freezing". By definition, sublimation occurs below the melting point of a substance (in this case, water). A far more likely explanation of what's happening in the photo is that the sun is directly heating the pole, melting the ice and warming the water until it steams in the cool, moist air.

Also, it was my understanding that water sublimation can't produce visible mist at all. The conditions that allow for water sublimation and water condensation (temperature and humidity) are mutually exclusive, are they not? --Lukeonia1 (talk) 08:31, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Wet cloth[edit]

Sublimation_(phase_transition)#Water states

This allows a wet cloth to be hung outdoors in freezing weather and retrieved later in a dry state.

Doesn't wet imply liquid (as opposed to solid) water, so this is simply evaporation? cmɢʟeeτaʟκ 08:51, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Problem with meaning[edit]

As a practising Chemistry teacher who has worked in both countries, I am very aware that in Britain (and probably a lot of former colonies), sublimation can also mean the opposite of what this article describes, what is called deposition in the US. I think the article should describe this. It is rather surprising that this has (apparently) not arisen before. --John (talk) 10:15, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

My impression is that any confusion concerns 2-stage processes: solid to gas to solid. For 1-step processes, I think everyone calls solid to gas sublimation, and gas to solid either deposition or less correctly condensation. But the Purification section for example deals with converting a solid to gas and back again, which is technically sublimation followed by deposition. But that is too long a description for many people, so some just call it sublimation and some deposition. I don't know if that is actually a national difference - it would be better to have sources saying so. If not, perhaps we should just say the 2-stage process is sometimes described as sublimation and sometimes as deposition, without specifying who says what. Dirac66 (talk) 19:30, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
No, as I said in Britain (and probably a lot of former colonies), sublimation can also mean the opposite of what this article describes, what is called deposition in the US.1 2 3 I see quite a lot of dictionaries refer to it as a two-stage process of purification as you described, and many just give one meaning as the article currently does. --John (talk) 22:34, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
The contradictory usage should be addressed in the article. In geology sublimation refers to mineral deposition from a gas or vapor phase. I created the volcanic sublimate stub as linking to sublimation was not adequate for minerals formed in such environments. Vsmith (talk) 23:15, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
Also the Deposition (phase transition) would need modification for the same reason. Wasn't aware that it was a British/American usage difference, just had assumed it was a chemistry/geology thing. Vsmith (talk) 23:43, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I have now checked the dictionary sources given above, which do indeed describe sublimation as a one-stage process in either direction (solid to gas, or gas to solid). However they seem actually to be US sources: No.1 says it should be cited as the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and no.2 has an image of Webster's New World College Dictionary. And no.3 we cannot cite since Wiktionary is part of Wikipedia and Wikipedia articles may not cite other Wikipedia articles as sources.
So I think we have evidence for a difference between general and chemistry usage for the one-stage processes which could well be mentioned in the article, using the dictionaries (1 and 2) as sources for general usage, as well as geology sources from VSmith(?), and some chemistry textbooks for chemistry usage. Given the dictionary evidence re one-stage processes, it seems probably best to keep it simple and not refer to 2-stage processes. And I would also exclude the national differences as not supported by the sources. Dirac66 (talk) 23:55, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

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