Short-time dynamics of partial wetting

James C. Bird, Shreyas Mandre, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


When a liquid drop contacts a wettable surface, the liquid spreads over the solid to minimize the total surface energy. The first moments of spreading tend to be rapid. For example, a millimeter-sized water droplet will wet an area having the same diameter as the drop within a millisecond. For perfectly wetting systems, this spreading is inertially dominated. Here we identify that even in the presence of a contact line, the initial wetting is dominated by inertia rather than viscosity. We find that the spreading radius follows a power-law scaling in time where the exponent depends on the equilibrium contact angle. We propose a model, consistent with the experimental results, in which the surface spreading is regulated by the generation of capillary waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234501
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 11 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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