The fate of a thin liquid filament (w/ video)

February 20, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have solved one of the printing industry's greatest challenges - whether a liquid thread will break up into drops.

Scientists from the Department of Engineering and the Institute for Manufacturing have developed a method for predicting whether a filament of fluid will condense along its length into a single droplet, or collapse into multiple droplets. The research, published today in the journal , could aid in designing processes for paint-spraying, ink-jet printing and the of drugs for .

Dr. Alfonso Arturo Castrejon Pita, first author on the paper, said: “For the first time in an experimental and quantitative way, the ultimate behavior of a under nothing but the action of viscous and surface tension forces has been explored.”

The video will load shortly

One of the greatest challenges facing the printing industry is to develop printheads that are capable of generating “clean” single, uniform size droplets within a large range of fluid properties (viscosity, surface tension).

The University of Cambridge team, led by Professor Ian Hutchings, developed a large-scale, fully controlled model of a printhead to recreate the process droplet generation. Using a very simple fluid solution, made up of water and glycerine, the team gradually increased the viscosity of the working fluid (by increasing the amount of glycerine in the mixture). The entire process of droplet generation was then recorded using ultrafast imaging techniques to observe how long threads, or filaments (rather than drops), were being generated, which, when sufficiently viscous, would be several centimeters long and one tenth of a millimeter thick. Furthermore, these long filaments would not breakup but instead slowly contract to form a single drop.

Professor Ian Hutchings, said: “Our regime diagram can predict whether or not a certain liquid can be broken into useful droplets; it is, in simple words, a rule of thumb to determine whether a liquid can be used to produce a droplet or not.”

Dr. Rafa Castrejon Pita,  co-author on the paper, said: “Almost every situation in which are involved, i.e. rain, splashes in the street, printers at home, water falling from a leaky faucet, pouring honey onto toast will, to some degree, follow the findings detailed in this work.

“What we found surprising is that many living organisms have evolved in certain ways such that their ‘droplet/jet generators’ look rather similar to our experimental systems and to commercial printheads.”

Explore further: Droplets that Roll Uphill

Related Stories

Droplets that Roll Uphill

September 24, 2007

A recent experiment conducted by physicists at University of Bristol in the United Kingdom has shown that liquid drops can defy gravity. Droplets of liquid on an inclined plate that is shaken up and down can travel uphill ...

How are droplets displaced by ultrasounds?

March 31, 2010

Understanding the physical mechanisms that enable a droplet to be displaced by propagating an acoustic wave along the substrate on which it lies is the hurdle that has been overcome by researchers from the Institut d'Electronique ...

Space image: Burning

May 26, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Because of the absence of gravity, fuels burning in space behave very differently than they do on Earth. In this image, a 3-millimeter diameter droplet of heptane fuel burns in microgravity, producing soot. ...

Physicists turn liquid into solid using an electric field

October 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Physicists have predicted that under the influence of sufficiently high electric fields, liquid droplets of certain materials will undergo solidification, forming crystallites at temperature and pressure ...

Recommended for you

Light-powered 3-D printer creates terahertz lens

April 29, 2016

From visible light to radio waves, most people are familiar with the different sections of the electromagnetic spectrum. But one wavelength is often forgotten, little understood, and, until recently, rarely studied. It's ...

A tiny switch for a few particles of light

April 29, 2016

The Jedi knights of the Star Wars saga are engaged in an impossible fight. This does not result from the superiority of the enemy empire, but from physics because laser swords cannot be used for fighting like metallic blades: ...

Physicists detect the enigmatic spin momentum of light

April 25, 2016

Ever since Kepler's observation in the 17th century that sunlight is one of the reasons that the tails of comets to always face away from the sun, it has been understood that light exerts pressure in the direction it propagates. ...

Superfast light source made from artificial atom

April 26, 2016

All light sources work by absorbing energy – for example, from an electric current – and emit energy as light. But the energy can also be lost as heat and it is therefore important that the light sources emit the light ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hyongx
not rated yet Feb 20, 2012
Very cool. Nice to see a thorough investigation of this topic with a sound experimental base for the observed phenomenon.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.