Research

Breaking Up

Liquid sheets break down in a process known as atomization. Above are top and side views of a liquid sheet created by two identical liquid jets impacting head-on. The jets themselves are off-screen to the left. Their collision generates a thin sheet of liquid that flows from left to right. In the center of the images, the sheet has begun to flap and undulate, shedding large droplets from its edges as it does. At the far end of the sheet, much finer droplets are sprayed out from the center as the sheet collapses completely. This is an example of an instability in a fluid. Initially, any disturbance in the liquid sheet is extremely tiny, but circumstances in the flow are such that those disturbances gather energy and grow larger, creating the large undulations. Those undulations are unstable as well and kick off a fresh set of disturbances that grow until the flow completely breaks down. (Image credit: N. Bremond et al., pdf)

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