Wrapping with a splash: High-speed encapsulation with ultrathin sheets

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Science  16 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6377, pp. 775-778
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1290

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It's a wrap

Whether an object has a regular or irregular shape, wrapping it with a thin film can be challenging. Kumar et al. released droplets of oil above thin polymer sheets floating on water (see the Perspective by Amstad). With sufficient impact force, the polymer wrapped around the droplet with near perfect seams. The shape of the resulting enclosed drop depended on the shape of the sheet initially placed at the air-liquid interphase.

Science, this issue p. 775; see also p. 743


Many complex fluids rely on surfactants to contain, protect, or isolate liquid drops in an immiscible continuous phase. Thin elastic sheets can wrap liquid drops in a spontaneous process driven by capillary forces. For encapsulation by sheets to be practically viable, a rapid, continuous, and scalable process is essential. We exploit the fast dynamics of droplet impact to achieve wrapping of oil droplets by ultrathin polymer films in a water phase. Despite the violence of splashing events, the process robustly yields wrappings that are optimally shaped to maximize the enclosed fluid volume and have near-perfect seams. We achieve wrappings of targeted three-dimensional (3D) shapes by tailoring the 2D boundary of the films and show the generality of the technique by producing both oil-in-water and water-in-oil wrappings.

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