When elasticity affects drop coalescence

Pim J. Dekker, Michiel A. Hack, Walter Tewes, Charu Datt, Ambre Bouillant, Jacco H. Snoeijer

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20 Citations (Scopus)
158 Downloads (Pure)


The breakup and coalescence of drops are elementary topological transitions in interfacial flows. The breakup of a drop changes dramatically when polymers are added to the fluid. With the strong elongation of the polymers during the process, long threads connecting the two droplets appear prior to their eventual pinch-off. Here, we demonstrate how elasticity affects drop coalescence, the complement of the much studied drop pinch-off. We reveal the emergence of an elastic singularity, characterized by a diverging interface curvature at the point of coalescence. Intriguingly, while the polymers dictate the spatial features of coalescence, they hardly affect the temporal evolution of the bridge. These results are explained using a novel viscoelastic similarity analysis and are relevant for drops created in biofluids, coating sprays, and inkjet printing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number028004
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022


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