Inertial effects in time-dependent motion of thin films and drops

L. M. Hocking*, S. H. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Capillarity is an important feature in controlling the spreading of liquid drops and in the coating of substrates by liquid films. For thin films and small contact angles, lubrication theory enables the analysis of the motion to be reduced to single evolution equations for the heights of the drops or films, provided the inertia of the liquid can be neglected. In general, the presence of inertia destroys the major simplification provided by lubrication theory, but two special cases that can be treated are identified here. In the first example, the approach of a drop to its equilibrium position is studied. For sufficiently low Reynolds numbers, the rate of approach to the terminal state and the contact angle are slightly reduced by inertia, but, above a critical Reynolds number, the approach becomes oscillatory. In the latter case there is no simple relation connecting the dynamic contact angle and contact-line speed. In the second example, the spreading drop is supported by a plate that is forced to oscillate in its own plane. For the parameter range considered, the mean spreading is unaffected by inertia, but the oscillatory motion of the contact line is reduced in magnitude as inertia increases, and the drop lags behind the plate motion. The oscillatory contact angle increases with inertia, but is not in phase with the plate oscillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 25 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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