Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 August 2021
We study the effect of surfactants on the dynamics of a drop-interface coalescence using full three-dimensional direct numerical simulations. We employ a hybrid interface-tracking/level-set method, which takes into account Marangoni stresses that arise from surface-tension gradients, interfacial and bulk diffusion and sorption kinetic effects. We validate our predictions against the experimental data of Blanchette and Bigioni (Nat. Phys., vol. 2, issue 4, 2006, pp. 254–257) and perform a parametric study that demonstrates the delicate interplay between the flow fields and those associated with the surfactant bulk and interfacial concentrations. The results of this work unravel the crucial role of the Marangoni stresses in the flow physics of coalescence, with particular attention paid to their influence on the neck reopening dynamics in terms of stagnation-point inhibition, and near-neck vorticity generation. We demonstrate that surfactant-laden cases feature a rigidifying effect on the interface compared with the surfactant-free case, a mechanism that underpins the observed surfactant-induced phenomena.