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Drop (liquid)
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Drop (liquid)

Water drops falling from a tap.
Water drops falling from a tap.

A drop or droplet is a small column of liquid, bounded completely or almost completely by free surfaces. A drop may form when liquid accumulates at the lower end of a tube or other surface boundary, producing a hanging drop called a pendant drop. Drops may also be formed by the condensation of a vapor or by atomization of a larger mass of liquid.


  • Surface tension
  • Pendant drop test
  • Droplet
  • Optics
  • Sound
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Gallery
  • See also
  • References
  • External links

Surface tension

The pendant drop test illustrated.
The pendant drop test illustrated.

Liquid forms drops because the liquid exhibits surface tension.

A simple way to form a drop is to allow liquid to flow slowly from the lower end of a vertical tube of small diameter. The surface tension of the liquid causes the liquid to hang from the tube, forming a pendant. When the drop exceeds a certain size it is no longer stable and detaches itself. The falling liquid is also a drop held together by surface tension.

Pendant drop test

In the pendant drop test, a drop of liquid is suspended from the end of a tube by surface tension. The force due to surface tension is proportional to the length of the boundary between the liquid and the tube, with the proportionality constant usually denoted \gamma.[1] Since the length of this boundary is the circumference of the tube, the force due to surface tension is given by

\,F_{\gamma} = \pi d \gamma

where d is the tube diameter.

The mass m of the drop hanging from the end of the tube can be found by equating the force due to gravity (F_{g} = mg) with the component of the surface tension in the vertical direction (F_{\gamma} \sin \alpha) giving the formula

\,mg = \pi d \gamma \sin \alpha

where is the angle of contact with the tube, and g is the acceleration due to gravity.

The limit of this formula, as goes to 90 , gives the maximum weight of a pendant drop for a liquid with a given surface tension, \gamma.

\,mg = \pi d \gamma

This relationship is the basis of a convenient method of measuring surface tension, commonly used in the petroleum industry. More sophisticated methods are available when the surface tension is unknown that consider the developing shape of the pendant as the drop grows.[2] [3]


The term droplet is a diminutive form of 'drop' - and as a guide is typically used for liquid particles of less than 500  m diameter. In spray application, droplets are usually described by their perceived size (i.e., diameter) whereas the dose (or number of infective particles in the case of biopesticides) is a function of their volume. This increases by a cubic function relative to diameter; thus a 50  m droplet represents a dose in 65 pl and a 500  m drop represents a dose in 65 nanolitres.


Due to the different refractive index of water and air, refraction and reflection occur on the surfaces of raindrops, leading to rainbow formation.


The major source of sound when a droplet hits a liquid surface is the resonance of excited bubbles trapped underwater. These oscillating bubbles are responsible for most liquid sounds, such as running water or splashes, as they actually consist of many drop-liquid collisions.[4][5]


The shapes of raindrops, depending on their sizes.

The classic shape associated with a drop (with a pointy end in its upper side) comes from the observation of a droplet clinging to a surface. The shape of a drop falling through a gas is actually more or less spherical. Larger drops tend to be flatter on the bottom part due to the pressure of the gas they move through.[6]


Scientists traditionally thought that the variation in the size of raindrops was due to collisions on the way down to the ground. In 2009 French researchers succeeded in showing that the distribution of sizes is due to the drops' interaction with air, which deforms larger drops and causes them to fragment into smaller drops, effectively limiting the largest raindrops to about 6 mm diameter.[7]


Image:Blue Droplet.jpg|Blue dye being dropped in a saucer of milk. Image:2006-02-13 Drop-impact.jpg|Impact of a drop of water. Image:2006-01-28 drop-impact backjet.jpg|Backjet from drop impact. Image:Water splashes 001.jpg|A drop of water hitting a metal surface/ crown formation due to splashing of droplet. Image:Post-splash with droplets.jpg|A drop of water hitting a wet metal surface and ejecting more droplets, which become water globules and skim across the surface of the water. Image:Water drop on a leaf.jpg|A drop of water on a leaf / Hydrophobic effect/ Partial Wetting. Image:Water droplet backjet.JPG|A triple backjet after impact. Image:Raindrop on a fern frond.jpg|Photo of a raindrop on a fern frond. Image:2006-01-21 Detaching drop.jpg|Detaching drop. Image:Showerheadandwaterdroplets.jpg|Water droplets forming out of a shower head. Image:Asteraceae03.JPG|A drop of water on a Asteraceae Image:A small flower refracted in rain droplets.jpg|Droplets of water refracting a small flower.

See also

  • Rain
  • Pitch drop


External links

ar: ay:Ch'aqa (Uma) be: bg: ca:Gota (l quid) cs:Kapka sn:Donhwe da:Dr be de:Tropfen nv:T naago et:Tilk es:Gota de agua eo:Guto fa: fr:Goutte (physique) hi: io:Guto id:Tetesan it:Goccia (liquido) he: ln:Litang nl:Druppel ja: no:Dr pe nn:Drope ps: pl:Kropla pt:Gota (l quido) ro:Pic tur qu:Sut'u ru: simple:Drop sl:Kaplja sr: sv:Droppe tr:Damla uk: yi: ( ) zh:

Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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