pool boiling, bubble nucleation, thin film thermocouples, ITO heater


A heater designed to monitor surface temperature fluctuations during pool boiling experiments while the bubbles were simultaneously being observed has been fabricated and tested. The heat source was a transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) layer commercially deposited on a fused quartz substrate. Four copper-nickel thin film thermocouples (TFTCs) on the heater surface measured the surface temperature, while a thin layer of sapphire or fused silica provided electrical insulation between the TFTCs and the ITO. The TFTCs were micro-fabricated using the liftoff process to deposit the nickel and copper metal films. The TFTC elements were 50 microns wide and overlapped to form a 25 micron by 25 micron junction. TFTC voltages were recorded by a DAQ at a sampling rate of 50 kHz. A high-speed CCD camera recorded bubble images from below the heater at 2000 frames/second. A trigger sent to the camera by the DAQ synchronized the bubble images and the surface temperature data. As the bubbles and their contact rings grew over the TFTC junction, correlations between bubble behavior and surface temperature changes were demonstrated. On the heaters with fused silica insulation layers, 1-2 C temperature drops on the order of 1 ms occurred as the contact ring moved over the TFTC junction during bubble growth and as the contact ring moved back over the TFTC junction during bubble departure. These temperature drops during bubble growth and departure were due to microlayer evaporation and liquid rewetting the heated surface, respectively. Microlayer evaporation was not distinguished as the primary method of heat removal from the surface. Heaters with sapphire insulation layers did not display the measurable temperature drops observed with the fused silica heaters. The large thermal diffusivity of the sapphire compared to the fused silica was determined as the reason for the absence of these temperature drops. These findings were confirmed by a comparison of temperature drops in a 2-D simulation of a bubble growing over the TFTC junction on both the sapphire and fused silica heater surfaces. When the fused silica heater produced a temperature drop of 1.4 C, the sapphire heater produced a drop of only 0.04 C under the same conditions. These results verified that the lack of temperature drops present in the sapphire data was due to the thermal properties of the sapphire layer. By observing the bubble departure frequency and site density on the heater, as well as the bubble departure diameter, the contribution of nucleate boiling to the overall heat removal from the surface could be calculated. These results showed that bubble vapor generation contributed to approximately 10% at 1 W/cm^2, 23% at 1.75 W/cm^2, and 35% at 2.9 W/cm^2 of the heat removed from a fused silica heater. Bubble growth and contact ring growth were observed and measured from images obtained with the high-speed camera. Bubble data recorded on a fused silica heater at 3 W/cm^2, 4 W/cm^2, and 5 W/cm^2 showed that bubble departure diameter and lifetime were negligibly affected by the increase in heat flux. Bubble and contact ring growth rates demonstrated significant differences when compared on the fused silica and sapphire heaters at 3 W/cm^2. The bubble departure diameters were smaller, the bubble lifetimes were longer, and the bubble departure frequency was larger on the sapphire heater, while microlayer evaporation was faster on the fused silica heater. Additional considerations revealed that these differences may be due to surface conditions as well as differing thermal properties. Nucleate boiling curves were recorded on the fused silica and sapphire heaters by adjusting the heat flux input and monitoring the local surface temperature with the TFTCs. The resulting curves showed a temperature drop at the onset of nucleate boiling due to the increase in heat transfer coefficient associated with bubble nucleation. One of the TFTC locations on the sapphire heater frequently experienced a second temperature drop at a higher heat flux. When the heat flux was started from 1 W/cm^2 instead of zero or returned to zero only momentarily, the temperature overshoot did not occur. In these cases sufficient vapor remained in the cavities to initiate boiling at a lower superheat.


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Graduation Date



Chow, Louis


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering








Release Date

June 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)