The contactless coalescence of a droplet is of paramount importance for physical and industrial applications. This paper describes a coalescence method to be used mid-air via acoustic levitation using an ultrasonic phased array system. Acoustic levitation using ultrasonic phased arrays provides promising lab-on-a-drop applications, such as transportation, coalescence, mixing, separation, evaporation, and extraction in a continuous operation. The mechanism of droplet coalescence in mid-air may be better understood by experimentally and numerically exploring the droplet dynamics immediately before the coalescence. In this study, water droplets were experimentally levitated, transported, and coalesced by controlled acoustic fields. We observed that the edges of droplets deformed and attracted each other immediately before the coalescence. Through image processing, the radii of curvature of the droplets were quantified and the pressure difference between the inside and outside a droplet was simulated to obtain the pressure and velocity information on the droplet’s surface. The results revealed that the sound pressure acting on the droplet clearly decreased before the impact of the droplets. This pressure on the droplets was quantitatively analyzed from the experimental data. Our experimental and numerical results provide deeper physical insights into contactless droplet manipulation for futuristic lab-on-a-drop applications.
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