Vibrating Droplets

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When still, water drops sitting on a surface are roughly hemispherical, drawn into that shape by surface tension. But on a vibrating surface, the same water drop displays many different shapes, like those in the video above. Researchers have observed more than 30 different mode shapes by varying the driving frequency. The metal mesh placed beneath the glass on which the drops sit helps the researchers determine the drop’s shape. As the drop deforms, the mesh appears to distort due to the refraction of light through the changing shape of the drop’s water-air interface. The distortion allows observers to visualize (and in some experiments even reconstruct) the shape of the drop’s surface. Understanding this kind of droplet behavior is valuable for many applications, including ink-jet printing and microfluidic devices. (Video credit: C. Chang et al.; via Science)

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