How Does the Study of Droplets Affect Birds and Microstructures?

Photo Credit: HUS0

These were probably the guys who used to sit and watch the rain, tracing the droplet paths down the window…and wondered about the surface tension and how many droplets could merge before they were no longer a mega-droplet and simply water, streaming down the window.

Led from Princeton University, an international team of researchers have investigated how tiny little droplets spread along flexible fibres – popping out of droplet existence and coating the surface of the fibre. Their aim is to be able to describe and model how liquids affect fibrous materials, opening up whole new channels of understanding of why liquids soak into some materials, bead on top of others and leave others matted and clumped.

The key parameter? The size of the liquid drop.

Their study has wide-reaching implications, from understanding how waterfowls’ feathers are affected by oil spills – improving our ability to rescue them – to optimizing the spread of liquid material in the fabrication of microstructures. The scientists have put together a set of rules that govern the spreading behaviour of liquids – a major engineering development.

Basically, as Camille Duprat, the lead author of the paper published on Feb 23rd in Nature, said, “Materials react differently to different drop sizes…You can design a material to react to a specific drop size or you can produce a drop size to affect a specific material.” Voila!

The other critical parameters (apart from droplet size) include the flexibility and radii of the fibres being used and the geometry of the fibre array (such as the space and angle between the pairs of fibres).

Good work ladies and gents. Now, when can we expect Flubber?

[Via Science Daily]


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