sublimation (sŭblĭmāˈshən) [key], change of a solid substance directly to a vapor without first passing through the liquid state. The term is also used to describe the reverse process of the gas changing directly to the solid again upon cooling. An example of sublimation is seen when iodine, on being heated, changes from a dark solid to a purplish vapor that condenses directly to a crystalline solid upon striking a cool surface. In this way pure crystals of iodine are prepared. Some other substances, e.g., mercuric chloride, can be prepared by sublimation. Solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice, sublimes at - 78.5°C ( - 109.3°F). Sublimation also occurs when air saturated with water vapor is suddenly cooled below the freezing point of water. Frost and snowflakes are thus formed by water changing directly from the gaseous to the solid state.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Physics