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Large deformations during the coalescence of fluid interfaces.


Surface forces and shape changes were simultaneously measured during the approach and coalescence of two liquid-liquid and liquid-air interfaces. Large normal and lateral deformations were observed that are nevertheless consistent with a simple theoretical analysis of the long-range effects of short-range attractive van der Waals forces. The results imply that two fluidlike structures such as liquid droplets and soft biological cells can sense each other at much larger separations than previously assumed based on criteria taken from the interactions of hard particles.