Research

Healing Soap Films

As fragile as a soap bubble seems, these films have remarkable powers of self-healing. The animation above shows a falling water droplet passing through a soap film without bursting it. An important factor here is that the water droplet is wet–passing a dry object through a soap film is a quick way to burst it, as those who have played with bubbles know. The droplet’s inertia deforms the soap film, creating a cavity. If the drop’s momentum were smaller, the film could actually bounce the droplet back like a trampoline, but here the droplet wins out. The film breaks enough to let the drop through, but its cavity quickly pinches off and the film heals thanks to the stabilizing effect of its soapy surfactants. (Image credit: H. Kim, source)

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