Research

Kicking Droplets

Moving the surface a droplet sits on creates some interesting dynamics, especially if the surface is hydrophobic. That’s what we see here with these droplets launched off an impulsively-moved plate.

On the left, the drop has some limited contact with the plate and it takes time for the droplet to completely detach. When accelerated, the droplet first flattens into a pancake, the rim of which quickly leaves the plate. The center of the droplet is slower to detach, stretching the drop into a vase-like shape. When the drop does finally lose contact, it creates a fast-moving jet that shoots upward at several meters per second!

In contrast the image on the left shows a levitating Leidenfrost droplet. Since this drop has no physical contact with the plate, the kick makes it leave the surface all at once, launching a pancake-like drop that quickly forms unstable lobes. (Image and research credit: M. Coux et al.)

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