Irregularities in the perimeter of a water droplet adhering to a vertical pane of glass cause perturbations in the curvature of the droplet surface. When laser light passes through such a droplet, the perturbations produce a far field refraction caustic, which is a section of the caustic known as the parabolic umbilic in the catastrophe theory classification. As the water evaporates and the droplet surface curvature changes, the section of the parabolic umbilic caustic on the viewing screen also changes. We determine the evolution of curvature of the droplet surface by observing the evolution of the far field caustic and the locations on the droplet responsible for the various features of the caustic.
© 1990 Optical Society of America
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