Droplet formation and ejection from a micromachined ultrasonic droplet generator: Visualization and scaling

J. M. Meacham, M. J. Varady, F. L. Degertekin, Andrei G. Fedorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Visualization and scaling of drop-on-demand and continuous-jet fluid atomization of water are presented to elucidate the fluid physics of the ejection process and characterize the modes of operation of a novel micromachined ultrasonic droplet generator. The device comprises a fluid reservoir that is formed between a bulk ceramic piezoelectric transducer and an array of liquid horn structures wet etched into (100) silicon. At resonance, the transducer generates a standing ultrasonic pressure wave within the cavity and the wave is focused at the tip of the nozzle by the horn structure. Device operation has been demonstrated by water droplet ejection from 5 to10 μm orifices at multiple resonant frequencies between 1 and 5 MHz The intimate interactions between focused ultrasonic pressure waves and capillary waves formed at the liquid-air interface located at the nozzle tip are found to govern the ejection dynamics, leading to different ejection modalities ranging from individual droplets to continuous jet. Specifically, we report the results of high-resolution stroboscopic optical imaging of the liquid-air interface evolution during acoustic pumping to elucidate the role of capillary waves in the droplet formation and ejection process. A basic understanding of the governing physics gained through careful visualization and scaling forms the basis for development of improved theoretical models for the droplet formation and ejection processes by accounting for key fluid mechanical features of the phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100605
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2005


  • Acoustic resonators
  • Capillarity
  • Drops
  • Flow visualisation
  • Jets
  • Lead compounds
  • Nozzles
  • Orifices (mechanical)
  • Piezoceramics
  • Piezoelectric transducers
  • Sprays
  • Two-phase flow
  • Ultrasonic transducers
  • Ultrasonic waves


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