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Time-resolved imaging of a compressible air disc under a drop impacting on a solid surface

  • E. Q. Li (a1) and S. T. Thoroddsen (a1)

When a drop impacts on a solid surface, its rapid deceleration is cushioned by a thin layer of air, which leads to the entrapment of a bubble under its centre. For large impact velocities the lubrication pressure in this air layer becomes large enough to compress the air. Herein we use high-speed interferometry, with 200 ns time-resolution, to directly observe the thickness evolution of the air layer during the entire bubble entrapment process. The initial disc radius and thickness shows excellent agreement with available theoretical models, based on adiabatic compression. For the largest impact velocities the air is compressed by as much as a factor of 14. Immediately following the contact, the air disc shows rapid vertical expansion. The radial speed of the surface minima just before contact, can reach 50 times the impact velocity of the drop.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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Type Description Title

Li and Thoroddsen supplementary movie
Shape of air-disc after contact for conditions in Figure 3(c).

 Video (694 KB)
694 KB

Li and Thoroddsen supplementary movie
Interference fringes corresponding to Figure 3(d,e).

 Video (9.4 MB)
9.4 MB

Li and Thoroddsen supplementary movie
Interference fringes corresponding to Figure 3f.

 Video (10.1 MB)
10.1 MB


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