An improved phase-field algorithm for simulating the impact of a drop on a substrate in the presence of surfactants

Chenxi Wang, Ming Chih Lai, Zhen Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is devoted to the numerical study of droplet impact on solid substrates in the presence of surfactants. We formulate the problem in an energetically variational framework and introduce an incompressible Cahn-Hilliard-Navier-Stokes system for the phase-field modeling of two-phase flows. Flory-Huggins potential and generalized Navier boundary condition are used to account for soluble surfactants and moving contact lines. Based on the convex splitting and pressure stabilization technique, we develop unconditionally energy stable schemes for this model. The discrete energy dissipation law for the original energy is rigorously proved for the first-order scheme. The numerical methods are implemented using finite difference method in three-dimensional cylindrical coordinates with axisymmetry. Using the proposed methods for this model, we systematically study the impact dynamics of both clean and contaminated droplets (with surfactants) in a series of numerical experiments. In general, the dissipation in the impact dynamics of a contaminated drop is smaller than that in the clean case, and topological changes are more likely to occur for contaminated drops. Adding surfactants can significantly influence the impact phenomena, leading to the enhancement of adherence effect on hydrophilic surfaces and splashing on hydrophobic surfaces. Some qualitative agreements with experiments are also obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112722
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2024


  • Droplet impact
  • Energy stability
  • Moving contact line
  • Phase-field
  • Surfactants


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