Phenomena

Liquids Pinching Off

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There is a surprising variety of forms in the pinch-off of a liquid drop. This short video shows three examples, and you’ll probably find yourself replaying it a few times to catch the details of each. On the left, a drop of water pinches off in air. As the neck between the nozzle and the drop elongates, the drop end of the neck thins to a point around which the drop’s surface dimples. This is called overturning. When the drop snaps off, the neck disconnects and rebounds into a smaller satellite droplet. The middle video shows a drop of glycerol, which is about 1000 times more viscous than water. This droplet stretches to hang by a thin neck that remains nearly symmetric on the nozzle end and the drop end. There is no satellite drop when it breaks. The rightmost video shows a polymer-infused viscoelastic liquid pinching off. This liquid forms a very long, thin thread with a fat satellite drop still attached. When gravity eventually becomes too great a force for the stresses generated by the polymers in the liquid, the drops break off. (Video credit: M. Roche)

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