Instabilities in Droplets Spreading on Gels

Karen E. Daniels, Shomeek Mukhopadhyay, Paul J. Houseworth, Robert P. Behringer
2007 Physical Review Letters  
We report a novel surface-tension driven instability observed for droplets spreading on a compliant substrate. When a droplet is released on the surface of an agar gel, it forms arms/cracks when the ratio of surface tension gradient to gel strength is sufficiently large. We explore a range of gel strengths and droplet surface tensions and find that the onset of the instability and the number of arms depend on the ratio of surface tension to gel strength. However, the arm length grows with an apparently universal law L t^3/4.
doi:10.1103/physrevlett.99.124501 pmid:17930507 fatcat:bw2kyspqi5h6je3ktessed7wna