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What does "sublimation" mean in science?

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Quick Answer

Sublimation is the scientific process in which solids are changed to gases without passing through the liquid phase. Sublimation occurs when temperatures and pressures are below the triple point. The triple point is the temperature and pressure at which substances can coexist in solid, liquid and vapor forms.

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An example of sublimation is dry ice changing from a solid into carbon dioxide vapor at room temperature. Sublimation also occurs in nature, especially in high-altitude areas such as Mount Everest. The combination of low air pressure, intense sunlight and cold temperatures causes snow and ice to vaporize without turning into liquid.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some exothermic and endothermic phase changes?

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    Sublimation, when a solid transforms into a gas, is an endothermic phrase change, while deposition, when a gas transforms to a solid, is an exothermic phase change. There are a total of six phase changes in matter, and three are endothermic and three are exothermic. An endothermic phase change absorbs heat or energy, while an exothermic phase change releases heat or energy, states the Washington University Department of Chemistry.

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  • Q:

    What causes iodine sublimation?

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    Iodine sublimation is caused by temperatures high enough to break the bonds between the atoms in its crystal lattice in the absence of pressures sufficient to keep them close to one another. At the atmospheric pressures at sea level, these conditions are met at just above room temperature, and thus both iodine sublimation and iodine deposition are readily observed. Iodine is a blue-black solid that sublimes into a purple gas.

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  • Q:

    How does temperature affect the rate of dissolving?

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    Whether the solute is a solid or gas, its solubility in water is dependent on temperature such that an increase in temperature can make solids more soluble while gases become less soluble. This means that if the temperature of water is increased by heating it, then the solid solute will dissolve more quickly. However, for gases dissolved in water, the reverse occurs and solubility decreases with an increase in water temperature.

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  • Q:

    Why doesn't convection occur in solids?

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    Convection does not occur in solids because the particles within are too tightly packed to facilitate the process. Convection requires actual movement between the particles within a substance in order to transfer heat which is only possible in a fluid state of matter such as liquid or gas.

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