Study of polygonal water bells: Inertia-dominated thin-film flows over microtextured surfaces

Emilie Dressaire, Laurent Courbin, Adrian Delancy, Marcus Roper, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microtextured surfaces are commonly used to study complex hydrodynamic phenomena such as spreading and splashing of liquid droplets. However, although surface topography is known to modify near-surface flow, there is no theory able to quantitatively predict the dramatic changes in dynamics of liquid spreading and splashing. Here, we investigate experimentally water bells formed on micropatterned surfaces in order to characterize the hydrodynamics of inertia-dominated flows through regular porous layers. Water bells are self-suspended catenary-shaped liquid films created when a jet impinges on a horizontal disc called an impactor. We show that the presence of micrometre-sized posts regularly arranged on the impactor results in a decrease of the water bell radius and the loss of axisymmetry as open water bells adopt polygonal shapes. We introduce a simple model that captures the main features of the inertia-dominated flow and reveals the role of the hydrodynamic interactions between neighbouring posts. In addition to their applications for tunable jet atomization, these polygonal sheets provide a paradigmatic system for understanding inertia-dominated flow in porous media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-57
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • interfacial flows (free surface)
  • porous media
  • thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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