Viscosity’s Impact

Everyone has seen drops of liquid falling onto a dry surface, yet the process is still being unraveled by researchers. We have learned, for example, that lowering the ambient air pressure can completely suppress splashing. Viscosity of the fluid also clearly plays a role, but the relationship between these and other variables is unclear. The images above show two droplet impacts in which the viscosity differs. The top image shows a low viscosity fluid, which almost immediately after impact forms a thin expanding sheet of fluid that lifts off the surface to create a crownlike splash. In contrast, the higher viscosity fluid in the bottom image spreads as a thick lamella with a thinner outer sheet that breaks down at the rim. Researchers found that both the high- and low-viscosity fluids have splashes featuring these thin liquid sheets, but the time scales on which the sheet develops differ. Moreover, lowering the ambient pressure increases the time required for the sheet to develop regardless of the fluid’s viscosity. (Image credit: C. Stevens et al.; submitted by @ASoutIglesias)

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