Research

Coarsening in a Soap Film

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Flow in a soap film is driven by gravity’s efforts to thin the film and surface tension’s attempts to stabilize variations in thickness. Because evaporation guarantees that the soap film will eventually dry out, gravity typically wins the battle and causes a soap film to rupture. This video takes a close look at what happens in the film just before it ruptures. Black dots form in the thinnest region of the flow. These areas are not holes, but they appear black because they are thinner than any wavelength of visible light. Before rupture, the black dots begin coalescing with one another, first due to diffusion and later more rapidly due to convection in the soap film. Ultimately, the black dots are the harbingers of doom for the fragile bubble. (Video credit: L. Shen et al.)

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