Coalescence of spreading droplets on a wettable substrate

Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Aug 11;97(6):064501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.97.064501. Epub 2006 Aug 7.


We investigate experimentally and theoretically the coalescence dynamics of two spreading droplets on a highly wettable substrate. Upon contact, surface tension drives a rapid motion perpendicular to the line of centers that joins the drops and lowers the total surface area. We find that the width of the growing meniscus bridge between the two droplets exhibits power-law behavior, growing at early times as t1/2. Moreover, the growth rate is highly sensitive to both the radii and heights of the droplets at contact, scaling as ho3/2/Ro. This size dependence differs significantly from the behavior of freely suspended droplets, in which the coalescence growth rate depends only weakly on the droplet size. We demonstrate that the scaling behavior is consistent with a model in which the growth of the meniscus bridge is governed by the viscously hindered flux from the droplets.