I watched this video where a lightbulb is suspended in a solution of HF. The result is that the HF dissolves the glass, but it seems like the part of glass on the surface reacted faster than fully submerged parts. Here is an image of the lightbulb after the experiment:

After Experiment Lightbulb

The glass breaks at approximately the 2:50 mark, and it looks like at that point the bottom portion was cut from a clean line. Perhaps the larger portion dissolved afterwards or was damaged during cleanup, I'm not sure.

Is there a reason why the glass closer to the surface would react faster than more submerged parts? Why would the very tip not dissolve first?

My best guess is that the specific line happened to be the thinnest glass. I find it unlikely that the specific line is the thinnest part. Wouldn't it be much more likely for there to be random holes in the submerged portion from the thinnest part of the glass?

  • $\begingroup$ Apologies if this is tagged poorly. Chemistry is not a very strong field for me. $\endgroup$ – David Starkey Nov 19 '14 at 16:51

Near surface of the liquid the glass is a bit hotter. All glass of the bulb gains comparable amount of heat energy from tungsten wire, but parts above the liquid are cooled only by air, so they are much hotter. Part of this heat is transferred into slightly submerged part, so it is the hottest part that is under liquid, and all reactions are quickened by increase of temperature.

However, this exact experiment is a bit ambiguous, as glass here is under extreme thermal stress, and shattering near surface of the liquid may be addressed to that.

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