Phenomena

Floating Water Bridges

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Water bridges that seem to float on air are an electrohydrodynamic phenomenon. By filling two beakers with extremely pure deionized water and applying a large voltage across them, flow is induced from one beaker to the other, as seen in the first few seconds of the video above. This flow is stable enough that the beakers can then be separated by a few centimeters without disturbing the bridge. Gravity tends to make the water bridge sag and capillary action tries to thin the bridge, but both effects are countered by the polarization forces induced in the water by the electric field. You can learn much more about the effect and see both photos and videos of it in action at Elmer Fuchs’ webpage. The flow visualization videos are especially neat! (Video credit: E. C. Fuchs)

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