Short-time dynamics of partial wetting Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 234501 (2008) PDF
by Bird, Mandre and StoneFluid Mechanics Capillarity Wetting Materials Science
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.