Superheating of a liquid past its boiling point (retarded boiling) is a well-known phenomenon. However, is there such a thing as supercooling of gas past its condensation point?

Conversely, supercooling of a liquid (retarded freezing) is also well-known. Does the reverse ever occur: can I superheat a solid up past its melting point?

  • $\begingroup$ c.f. cloud chambers for an application of vapor->liquid transition $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Dec 11, 2013 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ I believe for your question "supercooling of gas" consider humidity (supercooled steam), for your second question "superheat a solid" consider dry ice. $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2013 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Superheating and supercooling should be possible whenever there is a first order phase transition. This includes a wide variety of magnetic, structural, and electronic phase transitions. The physical mechanism is the same as in the water-ice transition: in a first order phase transition. the energy functional is still a local minimum at the old phase, there is a barrier to the formation of the new phase and so an adiabatically cooled sample will remain in the old phase past the point when the old phase is a global minimum.


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