Adding particles to a liquid can significantly alter its splash dynamics, as shown in this new study. In the first image, a purely-liquid droplet spreads on impact into a thin liquid sheet that destabilizes from the rim inward, ripping itself into a spray of droplets. At first glance, the particle-filled droplet in the second image behaves similarly; it, too, spreads and then disintegrates. But there are distinctive differences.
During expansion, the particles increase the drop’s effective viscosity, meaning that the splash sheet does not expand as far. That apparent viscosity increase is also part of why the drops the splash sheds are bigger than those without particles. The other part of that story comes from the retraction, where the variations in thickness caused by the particles and their menisci create preferential paths for the flow. As a result, the particle-filled splash breaks up faster and into larger droplets compared to its purely-liquid counterpart. (Image and research credit: P. Raux et al.)