Maksym Ivanov, Kelken Chang, Ivan Galinskiy, Bernhard Mehlig, and Dag Hanstorp
A new experimental technique for creating and imaging collisions of micron-sized droplets settling under gravity is presented. A pair of glycerol droplets is suspended in air by means of two optical traps. The droplet relative velocities are determined by the droplet sizes. The impact parameter is precisely controlled by positioning the droplets using the two optical traps. The droplets are released by turning off the trapping light using electro-optical modulators. The motion of the sedimenting droplets is then captured by two synchronized high-speed cameras, at a frame rate of up to 63 kHz. The method allows the direct imaging of the collision of droplets without the influence of the optical confinement imposed by the trapping force. The method will facilitate efficient studies of the microphysics of neutral, as well as charged, liquid droplets and their interactions with light, electric field and thermodynamic environment, such as temperature or vapor concentration.