Research Highlights | Published:

Fluid dynamics

Soft surfaces suppress splash

Nature volume 539, page 9 (03 November 2016) | Download Citation


Splashing occurs when droplets strike a stiff, flat surface, but a soft material, such as silicone gel, can reduce or even eliminate splatter.

A team led by Robert Style at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich and Alfonso Castrejón-Pita at the University of Oxford, UK, observed ethanol drops falling onto silicone gels of varying stiffness. Deformations of the soft substrates within a few microseconds of impact absorbed the drops' kinetic energy, decreasing splashing.

The authors say soft gels and elastic polymers could be used as inexpensive coatings to prevent splashing, which could improve many technologies, including inkjet printers.

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