Experimental measurements of microlayer formation and of the time history of microlayer thickness change have been obtained for nucleate boiling of water and ethanol. These detailed measurements were obtained using laser interferometry combined with high-speed cinematography. The measurement technique is discussed in detail with emphasis on the difficulties encountered in interpretation of the fringe patterns. The measurements for water can be reasonably applied to the data of Gunther and Kreith, in which case it is concluded that microlayer evaporation alone cannot account for the increased heat transfer rates observed in highly subcooled nucleate boiling. It appears that microconvection must play at least an equal role.

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