Research

Liquid Bridges

In 1893, Baron Armstrong demonstrated a peculiar phenomenon — a liquid bridge of water suspended between two beakers with a strong electric charge between them (Image 1). More than a century later, the details of the mechanism remain challenging to pin down thanks to the setup’s combination of electohydrodynamics, heat transfer (Image 2), evaporation, and chemistry (the electrodes can split water).

Researchers have pinned down a few details, though, like that the break-up of the liquid bridge (Image 3) depends on its effective length and that the effective length grows as applied voltage increases. Researchers also found that inducing an external flow can extend the bridge’s lifetime, though it does not affect the length at which it breaks up. Interestingly, the phenomenon is not limited to water (and its odd chemistry); ethanol and glycerol have been used for liquid bridges, too! (Image and research credit: X. Pan et al.)

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