Experimental investigation on splashing and nonlinear fingerlike instability of large water drops

S. S. Yoon, R. A. Jepsen, M. R. Nissen, T. J. O'Hern

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The fluid physics of the splashing and spreading of a large-scale water drop is experimentally observed and investigated. New phenomena of drop impact that differ from the conventional Rayleigh-Taylor instability theory are reported. Our experimental data shows good agreement with previous work at low Weber number but the number of fingers or instabilities begins to deviate from the R-T equation of Allen at high Weber numbers. Also observed were multiple waves (or rings) on the spreading liquid surface induced from pressure bouncing (or pulsation) within the impacting liquid. The first ring is transformed into a radially ejecting spray whose initial speed is accelerated to a velocity of 4-5 times that of the impacting drop. This first ring is said to be "splashing," and its structure is somewhat chaotic and turbulent, similar to a columnar liquid jet surrounded by neighboring gas jets at relatively high impact speed. At lower impact speeds, splashing occurs as a crown-shaped cylindrical sheet. A second spreading ring is observed that transforms into fingers in the circumferential direction during spreading. At higher Weber number, the spreading of a third ring follows that of the second. This third ring, induced by the pressure pulsation, overruns and has fewer fingers than the second, which is still in a transitional spreading stage. Several important relationships between the drop impact speed, the spray ejection speed of the first ring, and the number of fingers of the second and third rings are presented, based on data acquired during a set of drop impact experiments. Issues related to the traditional use of the R-T instability are also addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Fluids and Structures
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jan


  • Drop impact
  • Finger instability
  • Kelvin-Helmholtz
  • Rayleigh-Taylor
  • Splashing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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