Maximum size of drops levitated by an air cushion

Jacco H. Snoeijer, Philippe Brunet, Jens Eggers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)
152 Downloads (Pure)


Liquid drops can be kept from touching a plane solid surface by a gas stream entering from underneath, as it is observed for water drops on a heated plate, kept aloft by a stream of water vapor. We investigate the limit of small flow rates, for which the size of the gap between the drop and the substrate becomes very small, to obtain a full analytical description of stationary drop states and their stability. Above a critical drop radius no stationary drops can exist, below the critical radius two solutions coexist. However, only the solution with the smaller gap width is stable, the other is unstable. We compare to experimental data and use boundary integral simulations to show that unstable drops develop a gas “chimney” that breaks the drop in its middle.
Original languageEnglish
Article number036307
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical review E: Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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