The coalescence cascade of a drop

S. T. Thoroddsen*, K. Takehara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


When a drop is deposited gently onto the surface of a layer of the same liquid, it sits momentarily before coalescing into the bottom layer. High-speed video imaging reveals that the coalescence process is not instantaneous, but rather takes place in a cascade where each step generates a smaller drop. This cascade is self-similar and we have observed up to six steps. The time associated with each partial coalescence scales with the surface tension time scale. The cascade will, however, not proceed and infinitum due to viscous effects, as the Reynolds number of the process is proportional to the square root of the drop diameter. Viscous effects will therefore begin to be important for the very smallest drops. This cascade is very similar to the one observed previously by Charles and Mason [J. Colloid Sci. 15, 105 (1960)] for two immiscible liquids, where one of the liquids replaces the air in our setup. (C) 2000 American Institute of Physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1265-1267
Number of pages3
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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