Molecular Structure of the Coalescence of Liquid Interfaces

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Science  18 Sep 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5077, pp. 1664-1666
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5077.1664


When two bodies of liquid merge, their interfaces must also rupture and rearrange into one. Virtually no information is available concerning the small-scale dynamics of this process. Molecular dynamics simulations of coalescence in systems of about 10,000 Lennard-Jones particles have been performed, arranged so as to mimic laboratory experiments on dense liquids. The coalescence event begins when molecules near the boundary of one liquid body thermally fluctuate into the range of attraction of the other, forming a string of mutually attracting molecules. These molecules gradually thicken into a tendril, which continues to thicken as the bodies smoothly combine in a zipper-like merger.