Droplet size effects on film drainage between droplet and substrate

Benjamin Steinhaus, Patrick T. Spicer, Amy Q. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


When a droplet approaches a solid surface, the thin liquid film between the droplet and the surface drains until an instability forms and then ruptures. In this study, we utilize microfluidics to investigate the effects of film thickness on the time to film rupture for water droplets in a flowing continuous phase of silicone oil deposited on solid poly-(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) surfaces. The water droplets ranged in size from millimeters to micrometers, resulting in estimated values of the film thickness at rupture ranging from 600 nm down to 6 nm. The Stefan - Reynolds equation is used to model film drainage beneath both millimeter- and micrometer-scale droplets. For millimeter-scale droplets, the experimental and analytical film rupture times agree well, whereas large differences are observed for micrometer-scale droplets. We speculate that the differences in the micrometer-scale data result from the increases in the local thin film viscosity due to confinement-induced molecular structure changes in the silicone oil. A modified Stefan-Reynolds equation is used to account for the increased thin film viscosity of the micrometer-scale droplet drainage case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5308-5313
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 6 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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