Research

Storm Eyes and Mushrooms in a Drop

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In industry, drying droplets often have many components: a liquid solvent, solid nanoparticles, and dissolved polymers. The concentration of that last component — the polymers — can have a big effect on the way the droplet dries, as seen in the video above.

Without polymers, the droplet dries similarly to a coffee ring stain. But at moderate concentration, we see something very different. The droplet forms an eye in the middle, similar to a hurricane’s, and the edges of the droplet sprout mushroom-shaped plumes that grow and merge with one another along the edge. With even larger polymer concentrations, the mushrooms sweep their way inward, leaving a feathery stain behind. (Video, image, and research credit: J. Zhao et al.)

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