A liquid drop placed on a vibrating diaphragm will burst into a fine spray of smaller secondary droplets if it is driven at the proper frequency and amplitude. The process begins when capillary waves appear on the free surface of the drop and then grow in amplitude and complexity as the acceleration amplitude of the diaphragm is slowly increased from zero. When the acceleration of the diaphragm rises above a well-defined critical value, small secondary droplets begin to be ejected from the free-surface wave crests. Then, quite suddenly, the entire volume of the drop is ejected from the vibrating diaphragm in the form of a spray. This event is the result of an interaction between the fluid dynamical process of droplet ejection and the vibrational dynamics of the diaphragm. During droplet ejection, the effective mass of the drop–diaphragm system decreases and the resonance frequency of the system increases. If the initial forcing frequency is above the resonance frequency of the system, droplet ejection causes the system to move closer to resonance, which in turn causes more vigorous vibration and faster droplet ejection. This ultimately leads to drop bursting. In this paper, the basic phenomenon of vibration-induced drop atomization and drop bursting will be introduced, demonstrated, and characterized. Experimental results and a simple mathematical model of the process will be presented and used to explain the basic physics of the system.
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