Research

Wrinkles on Bubble Collapse

A collapsing bubble wrinkles.

A viscous bubble wrinkles when it collapses, and scientists long assumed this behavior was caused by gravity. But a new experiment shows that the buckling is, instead, driven by surface tension.

To test gravity’s influence on bubble collapse, the researchers popped bubbles in three orientations: the (normal) upright orientation (Images 1 and 2), upside-down (Image 3), and sideways (Image 4). In all cases, the bubble’s thin film wrinkled as it collapsed, indicating that gravity had little influence on the process. Instead the authors concluded that surface-tension-driven collapse causes the dynamic buckling of the film. (Image and research credit: A. Oratis et al.; submitted by Zander B.)

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