Drop coalescence through a liquid/liquid interface

Zulfaa Mohamed-Kassim, Ellen K. Longmire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Particle image velocimetry (PIV) experiments were conducted to study the coalescence of single drops through planar liquid/liquid interfaces. Sequences of velocity vector fields were obtained with a high-speed video camera and subsequent PIV analysis. Two ambient liquids with different viscosity but similar density were examined resulting in Reynolds numbers based on a surface tension velocity of 10 and 26. Prior to rupture, the drops rested on a thin film of ambient liquid above an underlying interface. After rupture, which was typically off-axis, the free edge of the thin film receded rapidly allowing the drop fluid to sink into the bulk liquid below. Vorticity generated in the collapsing fluid developed into a vortex ring straddling the upper drop surface. The ring core traveled radially inward with a ring-shaped capillary wave effectively pinching the upper drop surface and increasing the drop collapse speed. The inertia of the collapse deflected the interface downward before it rebounded upward. During this time, the vortex core split so that part of its initial vorticity moved inside the drop fluid while part remained in the ambient fluid above it. A second ring-shaped capillary wave formed along the interface outside of the drop and propagated radially outward during the collapse. Changing the ambient fluid viscosity resulted in several effects. First, the velocity of the receding free edge was smaller for higher ambient viscosity. Second, the pinching of the upper drop surface caused by the shrinking capillary ring wave was stronger when the ambient viscosity was lower, and this resulted in a higher maximum collapse speed and higher vorticity values in the dominant vortex ring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2170-2181
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004

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