Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics

Celebrating the physics of all that flows. Ask a question, submit a post idea or send an email. You can also follow FYFD on Twitter and Google+. FYFD is written by Nicole Sharp, PhD.

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Posts tagged "droplets"

Aerogel is an extremely light porous material formed when the liquid inside a gel is replaced with gas. When combined with water, aerogel powders can have some wild superhydrophobic effects. Here water condensed on a liquid nitrogen cooler has dripped onto a floor scattered with aerogel powder from the nitrogen’s shipping container. The result is that the water gets partially coated in aerogel powder and takes on some neat properties. Its contact angle with the surface increases - in other words, it beads up - which is typical of superhydrophobicity. When disturbed, the water breaks easily into droplets which do not immediately recombine upon contact. With sufficient distortion, they can rejoin. You can see some other neat examples of aerogel-coated water behaviors in this second video as well. (Video credit: ophilcial; submitted by Jason I.)

When a drop falls on a dry surface, our intuition tells us it will splash, breaking up into many smaller droplets. Yet this is not always the case. The splashing of a droplet depends on many factors, including surface roughness, viscosity, drop size, and—strangely enough—air pressure. It turns out there is a threshold air pressure below which splashing is suppressed. Instead, a drop will spread and flatten without breaking up, as shown in the video above. For contrast, here is the same fluid splashing at atmospheric pressure. This splash suppression at low pressures is observed for both low and high viscosity fluids. Although the mechanism by which gases affect splashing is still under investigation, measurements show that no significant air layer exists under the spreading droplet except near the very edges. This suggests that the splash mechanism depends on how the spreading liquid encroaches on the surrounding gas. (Video credit: S. Nagel et al.; research credit: M. Driscoll et al.)

Over the past few years, researchers have been exploring the dynamics of droplets bouncing on a vibrating fluid. These systems display many behaviors associated with quantum mechanics, including wave-particle duality, single-slit and double-slit diffraction, and tunneling. A new paper examines the system mathematically, showing that the droplets obey many of the same mathematics as quantum systems. In fact, the droplet-wave system behaves as a macroscopic analog of 2D quantum behaviors. The implications are intriguing, especially for teaching. Now students of quantum mechanics can experiment with a simple apparatus to understand some of the non-intuitive aspects of quantum behavior. For more, see the paper on arxiv. (Image credit: D. Harris and J. Bush; research credit: R. Brady and R. Anderson)

Hydrophobic literally means water-fearing, and, once a surface is treated with a hydrophobic coating, the effect on water droplets is stark. The tendency of the non-polar hydrophobic molecules to repel the polar water molecules leads to high contact angles - which make the droplets almost spherical as they glide along the surface. The droplets dance across the surface, colliding and bouncing and coalescing.  (Video and submission credit: M. Bell)

This video shows a multi-layered droplet, in which several droplets are formed one inside the other as an initial drop falls through a layer of oil sitting atop another liquid. When the drop falls, its potential energy gets transformed into interface energy, creating a fascinating interplay of surface tension, deformation, and miscibility between the fluids. Such self-contained multi-layered droplets, similar to multiple emulsions, could be helpful in pharmaceutical development. (Video credit: E. Lorenceau and S. Dorbolo 2004)

Al Seckel, a cognitive neuroscientist and expert on illusions, created this “Levitating Water” installation, in which multiple streams of water appear as a series of levitating droplets thanks to a strobing light. The well-timed strobe lighting tricks the brain into seeing many different falling droplets as the same, nearly stationary droplet. The effect is similar to the one created by vibrating a stream of falling water. (Video credit: wunhanglo)

This high-speed video shows the remarkable resilience of a water droplet upon impact against as a solid surface. The droplet deforms into a pancake-shape, with its center depressing almost flat before rebounding upward. The rest of the drop follows, splitting into several droplets as capillary waves dance across its surface. When one satellite drop almost escapes, the main droplet just barely comes in contact with it, the coalescence enough to tip surface tension into pulling them together instead of breaking them apart.  (Video credit: K. Suh/ChemistryWorldUK)

There’s something wonderfully serene about watching water droplets skate their way across the surface of a pool. Here the pool of water is being vibrated at a frequency just below the Faraday instability - meaning that no standing waves form on the surface. Instead, the bounce is just enough to create a thin layer of air between the droplet and the pool to prevent coalescence. With each bounce, gravity’s effect on the water tries to drain the air away, but each rebound lets more air rush in to hold the droplet up. Eventually, gravity wins and the droplets coalesce into the pool. In high-speed that process is mesmerizing, too. (Video credit: K. Welch)

In applications like drug delivery, it’s often desirable to encapsulate one or more liquid droplets in an additional immiscible fluid. These drops-within-drops, called double emulsions, are typically a multi-step process, created from the innermost drop outward. In this new microfluidic technique, though, researchers are able to create multi-component emulsions in a single step. A double-bored capillary tube creates the two inner droplets (both water, dyed different colors) while oil flows down the outside of the injection tube to encapsulate the droplets. The multi-component double emulsions then flow as one to the right in the outer carrier fluid. The spacing of the capillary tubes is critical to prevent the inner droplets from coalescing with one another. (Video credit: L. L. A. Adams et al.)

Surface properties can have surprising effects on fluid behavior. This image shows the evaporation of several droplets over time. All of the initial droplets are of the same volume, but they are placed on a surface which is a) superhydrophobic, b) hydrophobic, or c) hydrophilic. The more hydrophobic the surface, the larger the initial contact angle between the droplet and surface and the smaller the wetted area of the surface. Yet despite this seemingly large surface area exposure to air, the droplet on the superhydrophobic surface is the slowest to evaporate. (Photo credit: C. Choi)