Boiling and bubble dynamics were experimentally investigated in a Hele-Shaw flow cell using pure water at atmospheric pressure as the working fluid. The resulting vapor bubble shapes were recorded by means of a high-speed camera for several plate spacings and heating power levels. It was found that viscous fingering phenomena of vapor bubbles occurred only under very special boiling conditions and cell parameters. The evaporation front velocity was identified as a major parameter for the onset of viscous fingering. The observed basic viscous fingering dynamics was in reasonable agreement with theoretical analyses. In addition to that classical viscous large fingering, small-scale evaporation instability was observed leading to microscopic roughening of accelerating evaporation fronts. This instability might be explicitly related to evaporative heat and mass transfer effects across the fast-moving phase interface.

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