Ultrafast interference imaging of air in splashing dynamics

Michelle M. Driscoll*, Sidney R. Nagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


A drop impacting a solid surface with sufficient velocity will emit many small droplets creating a splash. However, splashing is completely suppressed if the surrounding gas pressure is lowered. The mechanism by which the gas affects splashing remains unknown. We use high-speed interference imaging to measure the air beneath all regions of a spreading viscous drop as well as optical absorption to measure the drop thickness. Although an initial air bubble is created on impact, no significant air layer persists until the time a splash is created. This suggests that splashing in our experimentally accessible range of viscosities is initiated at the edge of the drop as it encroaches into the surrounding gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154502
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 3 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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