Probing the nanoscale: the first contact of an impacting drop

Erqiang Li, Ivan Uriev Vakarelski, Sigurdur T Thoroddsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

When a drop impacts onto a solid surface, the lubrication pressure in the air deforms its bottom into a dimple. This makes the initial contact with the substrate occur not at a point but along a ring, thereby entrapping a central disc of air. We use ultra-high-speed imaging, with 200 ns time resolution, to observe the structure of this first contact between the liquid and a smooth solid surface. For a water drop impacting onto regular glass we observe a ring of microbubbles, due to multiple initial contacts just before the formation of the fully wetted outer section. These contacts are spaced by a few microns and quickly grow in size until they meet, thereby leaving behind a ring of microbubbles marking the original air-disc diameter. On the other hand, no microbubbles are left behind when the drop impacts onto molecularly smooth mica sheets. We thereby conclude that the localized contacts are due to nanometric roughness of the glass surface, and the presence of the microbubbles can therefore distinguish between glass with 10 nm roughness and perfectly smooth glass. We contrast this entrapment topology with the initial contact of a drop impacting onto a film of extremely viscous immiscible liquid, where the initial contact appears to be continuous along the ring. Here, an azimuthal instability occurs during the rapid contraction at the triple line, also leaving behind microbubbles. For low impact velocities the nature of the initial contact changes to one initiated by ruptures of a thin lubricating air film.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume785
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 16 2015

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