Coalescence of bubbles and drops in an outer fluid

Joseph D. Paulsen, Rémi Carmigniani, Anerudh Kannan, Justin C. Burton, Sidney R. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


When two liquid drops touch, a microscopic connecting liquid bridge forms and rapidly grows as the two drops merge into one. Whereas coalescence has been thoroughly studied when drops coalesce in vacuum or air, many important situations involve coalescence in a dense surrounding fluid, such as oil coalescence in brine. Here we study the merging of gas bubbles and liquid drops in an external fluid. Our data indicate that the flows occur over much larger length scales in the outer fluid than inside the drops themselves. Thus, we find that the asymptotic early regime is always dominated by the viscosity of the drops, independent of the external fluid. A phase diagram showing the crossovers into the different possible late-time dynamics identifies a dimensionless number that signifies when the external viscosity can be important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3182
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - Jan 24 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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