Mark Weislogel

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 88 pages)


We investigate the dynamics of spontaneous jumps of water drops from electrically charged superhydrophobic dielectric substrates during a sudden step reduction in gravity level. In the brief free-fall environment of a drop tower, with a non-homogeneous external electric field arising due to dielectric surface charges (with surface potentials 0.4-1.8 kV), body forces acting on the jumped drops are primarily supplied by polarization stress and Coulombic attraction instead of gravity. This electric body force leads to a drop bouncing behavior similar to well-known phenomena in 1-g 0 , though occurring for much larger drops (∼ 0.5 mL). We show a simple model for the phenomenon, its scaling, and asymptotic estimates for drop time of flight in two regimes: at short-times close to the substrate when drop inertia balances Coulombic force due to net free charge and image charges in the dielectric substrate and at long-times far from the substrate when drop inertia balances free charge Coulombic force and drag. The drop trajectories are controlled primarily by the dimensionless electrostatic Euler number Eu, which is a ratio of inertial to electrostatic forces. To experimentally determine values of Eu we conduct a series of drop tower experiments where we observe the effects of drop volume, net free charge, and static surface potential of the superhydrophobic substrate on drop trajectories. We use a direct search optimization to obtain a Maximum Likelihood Estimate for drop net charge, as we do not measure it directly in experiment. For φEu/8π > 1 drops escape the electric field, where φ is a drop to substrate aspect ratio. However, we do not observe any escapes in our dataset. With an eye towards engineering applications we consider the results in light of the so-called low-gravity phase separation problem with a worked example.

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