Deposition (phase transition)

Water vapour from humid winter-air deposits directly into a solid, crystalline frost pattern on a window, without ever being liquid in the process.

Phase transition in which gas transforms into solid without passing through the liquid phase.

- Deposition (phase transition)

46 related topics


Dew point

Temperature to which air must be cooled to become saturated with water vapor, assuming constant air pressure and water content.

This graph shows the maximum percentage, by mass, of water vapor that air at sea-level pressure across a range of temperatures can contain. For a lower ambient pressure, a curve has to be drawn above the current curve. A higher ambient pressure yields a curve under the current curve.
Graph of the dependence of the dew point upon air temperature for several levels of relative humidity.

When the temperature is below the freezing point of water, the dew point is called the frost point, as frost is formed via deposition rather than condensation.


Water frozen into a solid state, typically forming at or below temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

The three-dimensional crystal structure of H2O ice Ih (c) is composed of bases of H2O ice molecules (b) located on lattice points within the two-dimensional hexagonal space lattice (a).
Pressure dependence of ice melting
Log-lin pressure-temperature phase diagram of water. The Roman numerals correspond to some ice phases listed below.
An alternative formulation of the phase diagram for certain ices and other phases of water
Frozen waterfall in southeast New York
Feather ice on the plateau near Alta, Norway. The crystals form at temperatures below −30 °C (−22 °F).
Ice on deciduous tree after freezing rain
A small frozen rivulet
Ice formation on exterior of vehicle windshield
An accumulation of ice pellets
A large hailstone, about 6 cm in diameter
Snowflakes by Wilson Bentley, 1902.
Harvesting ice on Lake St. Clair in Michigan, c. 1905
Layout of a late 19th-Century ice factory
Loss of control on ice by an articulated bus
Channel through ice for ship traffic on Lake Huron with ice breakers in background
Rime ice on the leading edge of an aircraft wing, partially released by the black pneumatic boot.
Skating fun by 17th century Dutch painter Hendrick Avercamp
Ice pier during 1983 cargo operations. McMurdo Station, Antarctica

It is abundant on Earth's surface – particularly in the polar regions and above the snow line – and, as a common form of precipitation and deposition, plays a key role in Earth's water cycle and climate.


Thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above-freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, and resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice (a solid) as the water vapor reaches the freezing point.

A patch of grass showing crystalline frost in the below-freezing shade (blue, lower right); frost in the warming but still below freezing strip most recently exposed to sunlight (white, center); and a frost-free region: here, the previous frost has melted from a more prolonged exposure to sunlight (green, upper left.)
Frost in the highest town in Venezuela, Apartaderos: Because of its location in an alpine tundra ecosystem called páramo, a daily freeze-and-thaw cycle, sometimes described as "summer every day and winter every night", exists.
A spider web covered in air hoar frost
Hoar frost on the snow
Depth hoar, imaged with optical (left) and scanning electron (right) microscopy
A flower with advection frost on the edges of its petals
Frost patterns that developed on glass of a cold frame.
Dead plant leaves during Winter Storm Uri in a backyard in Northern Mexico, with below freezing temperatures.
Frost on the grass of a public park in November
Map of average first killing frost in Ohio from "Geography of Ohio," 1923
Roses with protection against frost - Volksgarten, Vienna
Curitiba (Southern Brazil) is the coldest of Brazil's state capitals; the greenhouse of the Botanical Garden of Curitiba protects sensitive plants.
Frost on a nettle
Large feathery crystals
Fern frost on a window
Window frost
Frost on plant leaves in the Himalayas
Surface hoar in Alaska
Hoar frost in Julian Alps
Frost on birch tree in Stockholm
Frost on grass in Ranu Pani, East Java, Indonesia
Frost on birch stem in Norway
Frost on grass in Sydney
An oak leaf with frost in Sweden

Types of frost include crystalline frost (hoar frost or radiation frost) from deposition of water vapor from air of low humidity, white frost in humid conditions, window frost on glass surfaces, advection frost from cold wind over cold surfaces, black frost without visible ice at low temperatures and very low humidity, and rime under supercooled wet conditions.

Water vapor

Gaseous phase of water.

Clouds, formed by condensed water vapor
Evidence for increasing amounts of stratospheric water vapor over time in Boulder, Colorado.
MODIS/Terra global mean atmospheric water vapor in atm-cm (centimeters of water in an atmospheric column if it condensed)
Cryogeyser erupting on Jupiter's moon Europa (artist concept)
Artist's illustration of the signatures of water in exoplanet atmospheres detectable by instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

Deposition is a phase transition separate from condensation which leads to the direct formation of ice from water vapor.

Sublimation (phase transition)

Transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas state, without passing through the liquid state.

Dark green crystals of nickelocene, sublimed and freshly deposited on a cold finger
Comparison of phase diagrams of carbon dioxide (red) and water (blue) showing the carbon dioxide sublimation point (middle-left) at 1 atmosphere. As dry ice is heated, it crosses this point along the bold horizontal line from the solid phase directly into the gaseous phase. Water, on the other hand, passes through a liquid phase at 1 atmosphere.
Dry ice subliming in air
Experimental set up for the sublimation reaction of naphthalene Solid naphthalene sublimes and form the crystal-like structure at the bottom of the watch glass
Solid compound of naphthalene sublimed to form a crystal-like structure on the cool surface.
Camphor subliming in a cold finger. The crude product in the bottom is dark brown; the white purified product on the bottom of the cold finger above is hard to see against the light background.
Crystals of ferrocene after purification by vacuum sublimation

The reverse process of sublimation is deposition or desublimation, in which a substance passes directly from a gas to a solid phase.

Space suit

Garment worn to keep a human alive in the harsh environment of outer space, vacuum and temperature extremes.

Apollo spacesuit worn by astronaut Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11
Orlan space suit worn by astronaut Michael Fincke outside the International Space Station
Space suits being used to work on the International Space Station.
From left to right, Margaret R. (Rhea) Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Judith A. Resnick, Sally K. Ride, Anna L. Fisher, and Shannon W. Lucid—The first six female astronauts of the United States stand with a Personal Rescue Enclosure, a spherical life support ball for emergency transfer of people in space
Astronaut Steven G. MacLean pre-breathes prior to an EVA
NASA's experimental AX-5 hard-shell space suit (1988)
Pressurised suit prototype designed by military engineer Emilio Herrera for a stratospheric balloon flight. c.1935
Final Frontier Design IVA Space Suit
Z-1 Series Suit
Teddy bears lifted to 30085 m above sea level on a helium balloon in a materials experiment by CU Spaceflight and SPARKS science club. Each of the bears wore a different space suit designed by 11- to 13-year-olds from SPARKS.
SK-1 space suit
Berkut space suit
Yastreb space suit
Krechet space suit
Strizh space suit
Sokol-KV2 space suit
Orlan-MK space suit
Mercury suit
Gemini G4C suit
Manned Orbital Laboratory MH-7 space suit
Apollo Block I A1C suit
Apollo/Skylab space suit
Shuttle Ejection Escape Suit
Shuttle Flight Suit
Launch Entry Suit
Advance Crew Escape Suit
Extravehicular Mobility Unit
SpaceX IVA suit
Shenzhou Intra-Vehicular Activity space suit
Feitian space suit

Sweat evaporates readily in vacuum and may desublime or deposit on objects nearby: optics, sensors, the astronaut's visor, and other surfaces.

Cirrus cloud

Genus of high cloud made of ice crystals.

Sky containing different types of cirrus clouds
A vast shield of cirrus clouds accompanying the west side of Hurricane Isabel
White cirrus in an anvil cloud
High cloud weather map symbols
Cirrus clouds merging to cirrocumulus clouds
Circumhorizontal arc
Heights of various cloud genera including high-, mid-, and low-level clouds
Large field of cirrocumulus clouds
Cirrostratus cloud
Cirrus clouds on Neptune, captured during Voyager 2 's flyby

Cirrus are usually formed when warm, dry air rises, causing water vapor deposition onto rocky or metallic dust particles at high altitudes.


Reverse of vaporization.

Condensation forming in the low pressure zone above the wing of an aircraft due to adiabatic expansion
Condensation on a window on a cold day.
Condensation on the outside of a window, due to it being in front of the sea which regularly produces moist sea spray.
In cloud chambers a liquid (sometimes water, but usually isopropanol) condenses upon contact with a particle of radiation thus producing an effect similar to contrails
Condensation on a window during a rain shower.

When the transition happens from the gaseous phase into the solid phase directly, the change is called deposition.


Concentration of water vapour present in the air.

Paranal Observatory on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth.
A hygrothermograph for humidity and temperature recording
Hygrometer for domestic use, wet/dry psychrometer type
Thermo hygrometer displaying temperature and relative humidity
Hygrostat set to 50% relative humidity
Humidor, used to control humidity of cigars
Average humidity around Australia year-round at 9 am
Tillandsia usneoides in Tropical house, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It is growing where the climate is warm enough and has a relatively high average humidity.
Effects of high humidity level in a building structure (primary efflorescence)
Desiccant bag (silica gel), commonly included in packages containing electronic products to control humidity

At 100% relative humidity, air is saturated and at its dew point: the water vapor pressure would permit neither evaporation of nearby liquid water nor condensation to grow the nearby water; neither sublimation of nearby ice nor deposition to grow the nearby ice.

Dry ice

Solid form of carbon dioxide.

Sublimating dry ice pellet, with white frost on the surface
Comparison of phase diagrams of carbon dioxide (red) and water (blue) as a log-lin chart with phase transitions points at 1atmosphere pressure
An ice cream cart
Dry ice in water
Dry ice blasting used for cleaning a rubber mold
Dry ice blasting used for cleaning electrical installations
Dry ice bomb
Dry ice pellet subliming in water, releasing thick white fog.
A UN 1845 label for dry ice

The opposite process is called deposition, where CO2 changes from the gas to solid phase (dry ice).