Raindrops splash before they hit the ground

April 27th, 2009 - 12:27 pm ICT by ANI  

London, April 27 (ANI): In a new research that involved the use of computer simulations, scientists have shown that raindrops actually splash just a few microseconds before hitting the ground.

A liquid drop hitting a surface often flattens into a thin sheet that then bounces to form a crown shape.

Previous experiments have suggested the surrounding air plays a role: a droplet doesn’t splash so easily when the air pressure is low, instead spreading out into a thin pancake.

Now, according to a report in New Scientist, Shreyas Mandre of Harvard University and colleagues ran computer simulations of liquid drops hitting a solid surface, accounting for factors such as air pressure and the drop’s surface tension.

Their results showed that a typical raindrop - roughly 2 millimeters wide and traveling at a few meters per second - compresses air in front of it a few microseconds before hitting a solid surface.

This creates an air cushion that causes the raindrop to flatten and spread out, which the team believe would be less likely if the drop was striking a higher friction surface, and may help the splash evolve into a crown.

According to Mandre, splashing is still poorly understood, so describing such processes could help create splash-suppressing materials for use in kitchens, for example. (ANI)

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