Research

A Viscous Splash

A drop falls into a pool, generating a crown-like splash that breaks into drops

The splash of a drop may be commonplace, but it is still a mesmerizing and fertile phenomenon. When it comes to splashing, scientists are still learning how to predict the outcome. Here a drop of silicon oil impacts a film of silicon oil with an even higher viscosity. The momentum of that impact creates a crater and a splash curtain that rises and expands from the initial point of impact. Because the film viscosity is higher than the drop’s, the evolution of the corona slows down. Eventually, surface tension and gravity start pulling the splash curtain back down as the crater collapses. Meanwhile at the top of the splash, capillary forces pull fluid into the rim, which becomes unstable and grows cusps that eventually eject a cloud of smaller droplets. (Image and research credit: H. Kittel et al., source)

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