Electrolytic drops in an electric field: A numerical study of drop deformation and breakup

Rohit Pillai, Joe Berry, Dalton Harvie, Malcolm Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The deformation and breakup of an axisymmetric, conducting drop suspended in a nonconducting medium and subjected to an external electric field is numerically investigated here using an electrokinetic model. This model uses a combined level set-volume of fluid formulation of the deformable surfaces, along with a multiphase implementation of the Nernst-Planck equation for transport of ions, that allows for varying conductivity inside the drop. A phase diagram, based on a parametric study, is used to characterize the stability conditions. Stable drops with lower ion concentration are characterized by longer drop shapes than those achieved at higher ion concentrations. For higher drop ion concentration, greater charge accumulation is observed at drop tips. Consequently, such drops break up by pinching off rather than tip streaming. The charge contained in droplets released from unstable drops is shown to increase with drop ion concentration. These dynamic drop behaviors depend on the strength of the electric field and the concentration of ions in the drop and result from the interplay between the electric forces arising from the permittivity jump at the drop interface and the ions in the bulk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number013007
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015


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