The familiar ring-shaped stain left behind after spilled coffee has dried represents a complex engineering problem involving principles of heat and mass transport, fluid mechanics, and surface phenomena (among others) whose solution has value well beyond spilled coffee, including the analysis of DNA microarrays, inkjet printing, and coating. In the May AIChE Journal review article, “Transport and Deposition Patterns in Drying Sessile Droplets,” Ronald Larson of the Univ. of Michigan examines this engineering problem — understanding the processes by which a liquid drop (containing nonvolatile solute or colloidal particles) on a surface evaporates and leaves behind the particles that form a stain.
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