Droplet coalescence is initiated by thermal motion

Sreehari Perumanath, Matthew Borg, Mykyta Chubynsky, James Sprittles, Jason Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The classical notion of the coalescence of two droplets of the same radius R is that surface tension drives an initially singular flow. In this Letter we show, using molecular dynamics simulations of coalescing water nano-droplets, that after single or multiple bridges form due to the presence of thermal capillary waves, the bridge growth commences in a thermal regime. Here, the bridges expand linearly in time much faster than the viscous-capillary speed due to collective molecular jumps near the bridge fronts. Transition to the cla√ssical hydrodynamic regime only occurs once the bridge radius exceeds a thermal length scale lT ∼ R.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104501
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume122
Issue number10
Early online date13 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

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