For almost 200 y, the dominant approach to understand oil-on-water droplet shape and stability has been the thermodynamic expectation of minimized energy, yet parallel literature shows the prominence of Marangoni flow, an adaptive gradient of interfacial tension that produces convection rolls in the water. Our experiments, scaling arguments, and linear stability analysis show that the resulting Marangoni-driven high-Reynolds-number flow in shallow water overcomes radial symmetry of droplet shape otherwise enforced by the Laplace pressure. As a consequence, oil-on-water droplets are sheared to become polygons with distinct edges and corners. Moreover, subphase flows beneath individual droplets can inhibit the coalescence of adjacent droplets, leading to rich many-body dynamics that makes them look alive. The phenomenon of a “vortex halo” in the liquid subphase emerges as a hidden variable.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jan 24 2023|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Marangoni flow
- active matter