Ivan Uriev Vakarelski, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist
Senior Research Scientist


Dr. Vakarelski obtained his M.S. in Physics from University of Sofia, Bulgaria and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Kyoto University, Japan. Following his Ph.D., Dr. Vakarelski held research positions at the University of Florida, USA; Kyoto University, Japan; the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Singapore before moving to KAUST in 2010. Since joining KAUST Dr. Vakarelski lead research published in Nature, Science Advances and Physical Review Letters.     

Research Interests

Fluid Dynamics.
Drag reduction and energy saving by introducing a lubricating gas layers on solids moving in liquid: plastron on superhydrophobic surfaces, Leidenfrost vapor layers and streamlined gas cavities attached to a falling sphere. Effect of the fluid interface mobility on the interaction between bubbles and droplets.

Colloid and surface science.
Force measurement on micro and nanoscale using the atomic force microscopy (AFM) colloidal probe technique: microparticles adhesion, nanoscale friction and wear in solutions. Soft matter interactions: AFM colloidal probe measurement of forces between droplets, bubbles and living cells. 
Surface modification by click-chemistry, surface functionalization with nanoparticles. Nanoparticles selfassembly into functional microwire networks by evaporative lithography.
Effect of the wettability and surface roughness on the heat transfer and boiling regimens on heated solid in contact with water.

Selected Publications

Mobile-surface droplets and bubbles coalesce faster but bounce stronger

   Vakarelski, I. U., Yang, F., Tian, Y. S., Li, E. Q., Chan, D. Y. C. & Thoroddsen, S. T.

   Science Advances, 5, eaaw4292 (2019)

Self-determined shapes and velocities of giant near-zero drag gas cavities

    Vakarelski, I. U., Klaseboer, E., Jetly, A., Mansoor, M. M., Aguirre-Pablo, A. A., Chan, D. Y. C., & Thoroddsen, S. T. 

    Science Advances, 3, e1701558 (2017).

Leidenfrost vapor layers reduce drag without the crisis in high viscosity liquids

    Vakarelski, I. U., Berry, J. D., Chan, D. Y. C., & Thoroddsen, S. T. 

    Physical Review Letters, 117, 114503 (2016).


Drag moderation by the melting of an ice surface in contact with water

    Vakarelski, I. U., Chan, D. Y. C., & Thoroddsen, S. T. 

    Physical Review Letters, 115, 044501 (2015).

Stabilization of Leidenfrost vapour layer by textured superhydrophobic surfaces.

   Vakarelski, I. U., Patankar, N. A., Marston, J. O., Chan, D. Y. C., & Thoroddsen, S. T.


Drag reduction by Leidenfrost vapor layers. 

   Vakarelski, I. U., Marston, J. O., Chan, D. Y. C., & Thoroddsen, S. T. 

   Physical Review Letters,106, 214501 (2011).


Dynamic interactions between microbubbles in water,

    Vakarelski, I. U., Manica, R.; Tang, X. S., O’Shea, S. J., Stevens, G. W., Grieser, F., Dagastine, R. D., Chan, D. Y. C.,

Assembly of gold nanoparticles into microwire networks induced by drying liquid bridges.

    Vakarelski, I. U., Chan, D. Y. C., Nonoguchi, T., Shinto, H., Higashitani, K.