The role of air in droplet impact on a smooth, solid surface
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CitationKolinski, John Martin. 2015. The role of air in droplet impact on a smooth, solid surface. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThe impact of liquid drops on solid surfaces is a ubiquitous phenomenon in our everyday experience; nevertheless, a general understanding of the dynamics governing droplet impact remains elusive. The impact event is understood within a commonly accepted hydrodynamic picture: impact initiates with a rapid shock and a subsequent ejection of a sheet leading to beautiful splashing patterns. However, this picture ignores the essential role of the air that is trapped between the impacting drop and the surface. We describe a new imaging modality that is sensitive to the behavior right at the surface. We show that a very thin film of air, only a few tens of nanometers thick, remains trapped between the falling drop and the surface as the drop spreads. The thin film of air serves to lubricate the drop enabling the fluid to skate on the air film laterally outward at surprisingly high velocities, consistent with theoretical predictions. We directly visualize the rapid spreading dynamics succeeding the impact of a droplet of fluid on a solid, dry surface. We show that the approach of the spreading liquid toward the surface is unstable, and lift-off of the spreading front away from the surface occurs. Lift-off ensues well before the liquid contacts the surface, in contrast with prevailing paradigm where lift-off of the liquid is contingent on solid-liquid contact and the formation of a viscous boundary layer. We show that when a drop impacts an atomically smooth mica surface, a strikingly stable nanometer thin layer of air remains trapped between the liquid and the solid. This layer occludes the formation of contact, and ultimately causes the complete rebound of the drop.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13064817
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