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Initial spreading of low-viscosity drops on partially wetting surfaces

Abstract

Liquid drops start spreading directly after brought into contact with a partial wetting substrate. Although this phenomenon involves a three-phase contact line, the spreading motion is very fast. We study the initial spreading dynamics of low-viscosity drops, using two complementary methods: Molecular Dynamics simulations and high-speed imaging. We access previously unexplored length- and time-scales, and provide a detailed picture on how the initial contact between the liquid drop and the solid is established. Both methods unambiguously point towards a spreading regime that is independent of wettability, with the contact radius growing as the square root of time

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