Experiments in Fluids

, 55:1716 | Cite as

High-speed monodisperse droplet generation by ultrasonically controlled micro-jet breakup

  • Philipp Erhard Frommhold
  • Alexander Lippert
  • Frank Ludwig Holsteyns
  • Robert Mettin
Research Article


A liquid jet that is ejected from a nozzle into air will disintegrate into drops via the well-known Plateau–Rayleigh instability within a certain range of Ohnesorge and Reynolds numbers. With the focus on the micrometer scale, we investigate the control of this process by superimposing a suitable ultrasonic signal, which causes the jet to break up into a very precise train of monodisperse droplets. The jet leaves a pressurized container of liquid via a small orifice of about 20 μm diameter. The break-up process and the emerging droplets are recorded via high-speed imaging. An extended parameter study of exit speed and ultrasonic frequency is carried out for deionized water to evaluate the jet’s state and the subsequent generation of monodisperse droplets. Maximum exit velocities obtained reach almost 120 m s−1, and frequencies have been applied up to 1.8 MHz. Functionality of the method is confirmed for five additional liquids for moderate jet velocities \(\lesssim\)38 m s−1. For the uncontrolled jet disintegration, the drop size spectra revealed broad distributions and downstream drop growth by collision, while the acoustic control generated monodisperse droplets with a standard deviation less than 0.5 %. By adjustment of the acoustic excitation frequency, drop diameters could be tuned continuously from about 30 to 50 μm for all exit speeds. Good agreement to former experiments and theoretical approaches is found for the relation of overpressure and jet exit speed, and for the observed stability regions of monodisperse droplet generation in the parameter plane of jet speed and acoustic excitation frequency. Fitting of two free parameters of the general theory to the liquids and nozzles used is found to yield an even higher precision. Furthermore, the high-velocity instability limit of regular jet breakup described by von Ohnesorge has been superseded by more than a factor of two without entering the wind-induced instability regime, and monodisperse droplet generation was always achievable. Thus, the reliable and robust realization of tunable high-speed monodisperse micro-droplet trains is demonstrated. Some implication for applications is discussed.


Light Emit Diode Ohnesorge Number Monodisperse Droplet Acoustic Control Exit Speed 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank G. Brenn for inspiring, scientific discussions. We are also grateful to W. Lauterborn for valuable comments and careful reading of the manuscript. The financial support by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth and the Austrian National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philipp Erhard Frommhold
    • 1
  • Alexander Lippert
    • 2
  • Frank Ludwig Holsteyns
    • 3
  • Robert Mettin
    • 1
  1. 1.Christian Doppler Laboratory for Cavitation and Micro-Erosion, Drittes Physikalisches InstitutGeorg-August-University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Lam Research AGVillachAustria
  3. 3.IMECLeuvenBelgium

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