Drop impact on superheated surfaces: Short-time dynamics and transition to contact

Pierre Chantelot*, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


When a volatile drop impacts on a superheated solid, air drainage and vapour generation conspire to create an intermediate gas layer that delays or even prevents contact between the liquid and the solid. In this article, we use high-speed synchronized reflection interference and total internal reflection imaging to measure the short-time dynamics of the intermediate gas film and to probe the transition between levitation and contact. We observe that the substrate temperature strongly affects the vertical position of the liquid-gas interface and that the dynamic Leidenfrost transition is influenced by both air and vapour drainage (i.e. gas drainage), and evaporation, the latter giving rise to hitherto unreported vertical oscillations of the gas film that can trigger liquid-solid contact. We first derive scaling relations for the height of the gas film trapped under the drop's centreline, called the dimple height, and the minimum film thickness at short times. The former is set by a competition between gas drainage and liquid inertia, similarly as for isothermal impacts, while the latter strongly depends on the vapour production. The gas pressure, at the location where the minimum thickness is reached, is determined by liquid inertia and vapour production and ultimately balanced by the increasing interfacial curvature, determining the minimum thickness. We show that, in the low impact velocity limit, the transient stability of the draining gas film remarkably makes dynamic levitation less demanding than static levitation. We characterize the vertical gas film oscillations by measuring their frequency and monitoring their occurrence in the parameter space spanned by surface temperature and impact velocity. Finally, we model the occurrence of these oscillations and account for their frequency through a hydrodynamic mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA36
JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
Early online date15 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021


  • boiling
  • condensation/evaporation
  • drops
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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