Rising bubbles and droplets are common in many chemical and industrial applications. But just a tiny concentration of contaminants on their surface can completely alter their behavior, disrupting coalescence and slowing down chemical reactions.
Historically, it’s been hard to measure the level of contamination in these some drops and bubbles, but a new study outlines a way to measure these small concentrations by perturbing the drops and watching how they deform. By analyzing how the drop shimmies and shakes, they’re able to measure its surface tension and, ultimately, the concentration of contaminants. (Image credit: S. Sørensen; research credit: B. Lalanne et al.; via APS Physics)