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.

Recent Tweets @
Posts tagged "ligaments"

A liquid’s surface tension can have a big effect on its splashes. In this video, a 5-mm droplet hits a surface covered in a thin layer of a liquid with lower viscosity and surface tension. The result is a dramatic effect on the spreading splash. As the initial curtain grows and expands, the lower surface tension of the impacted fluid thins the splash curtain. Fluid flows away from these areas due to the Marangoni effect, causing holes to grow. The sheet breaks up into a network of liquid filaments and ejected droplets before gravity can even bring it all to rest. For more, see this previous post and review paper. (Video credit: S. Thoroddsen et al.)

Water droplet art celebrates the infinite forms created from the impact of drops with a pool and rebounding jets. It’s a still life captured from split second interactions between inertia, momentum, and surface tension. These examples from photographer Markus Reugels are among some of the most complex shapes I’ve seen captured. Be sure to check out his website for more beautiful examples of liquids frozen in time. (Photo credits: Markus Reugels; via Photigy)

Here fluid is ejected as two flat plates collide, creating a sheet of silicone oil. The initially smooth sheet forms a thicker ligament about the edge. Gravity causes the sheet to bend downward like a curtain, and growing instabilities along the ligament cause the development of a wavy edge. The points of the waves develop droplets that eject outward. Not long after this photograph, the entire liquid sheet will collapse into ligaments and flying droplets. (Photo credit: B. Chang, B. Slama, and S. Jung)

In fluid dynamics, we like to classify flows as laminar—smooth and orderly—or turbulent—chaotic and seemingly random—but rarely is any given flow one or the other. Many flows start out laminar and then transition to turbulence. Often this is due to the introduction of a tiny perturbation which grows due to the flow’s instability and ultimately provokes transition. An instability can typically take more than one form in a given flow, based on the characteristic lengths, velocities, etc. of the flow, and we classify these as instability modes. In the case of the vertical rotating viscous liquid jet shown above, the rotation rate separates one mode (n) from another. ¬†As the mode and rotation rate increase, the shape assumed by the rotating liquid becomes more complicated. Within each of these columns, though, we can also observe the transition process. Key features are labeled in the still photograph of the n=4 mode shown below. Initially, the column is smooth and uniform, then small vertical striations appear, developing into sheets that wrap around the jet. But this shape is also unstable and a secondary instability forms on the liquid rim, which causes the formation of droplets that stretch outward on ligaments. Ultimately, these droplets will overcome the surface tension holding them to the jet and the flow will atomize. (Video and photo credits: J. P. Kubitschek and P. D. Weidman)


Artist Shinichi Maruyama uses photography to freeze the transient motion of fluids into water sculptures. Inertia, gravity, and surface tension are at war in each piece. Plateau-Rayleigh instabilities break long filaments of liquid into droplets that splash, collide, and reform. To see how he makes this art, check out his videos. (Photo credits: Shinichi Maruyama)

High-speed video reveals the complexity of fluid instabilities leading to atomization—the breakup of a liquid sheet into droplets. A thin annular liquid sheet is sandwiched between concentric air streams. As the velocity of the air on either side of the liquid sheet varies, shear forces cause the sheet to develop waves that result in mushroom-like shapes that break down into ligaments and droplets. Quick breakup into droplets is important in many applications, most notably combustion, where the size and dispersal of fuel droplets affects the efficiency of an engine. (Video credit: D. Duke, D. Honnery, and J. Soria)