Effect of surfactants on the splashing dynamics of drops impacting smooth substrates


We present the results of a systematic study elucidating the role that dynamic surface tension has on the spreading and splashing dynamics of surfactant-laden droplets during the impact on hydrophobic substrates. Using four different surfactants at various concentrations, we generated a range of solutions whose dynamic surface tension were characterized to submillisecond timescales using maximum bubble-pressure tensiometry. Impact dynamics of these solutions were observed by high-speed imaging with subsequent quantitative image processing to determine the impact parameters (droplet size and speed) and dynamic wetting properties (dynamic contact angle). Droplets were slowly formed by dripping to allow the surfactants to achieve equilibrium at the free surface prior to impact. Our results indicate that while only the fastest surfactants appreciably affect the maximum spreading diameter, the droplet morphology during the initial stages of spreading is different to water for all surfactant solutions studied. Moreover, we show that surfactant-laden droplets splash more easily than pure liquid (water). Based on the association of the splashing ratio to our tensiometry measurements, we are able to predict the effective surface tension acting during splashing. These results suggest that droplet splashing characteristics are primarily defined by the stretching of the equilibrated droplet free surface.

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