Influence of insoluble surfactant on the deformation and breakup of a bubble or thread in a viscous fluid

M. Hameed, M. Siegel, Y. N. Young, J. Li, M. R. Booty, D. T. Papageorgiou

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37 Scopus citations


The influence of surfactant on the breakup of a prestretched bubble in a quiescent viscous surrounding is studied by a combination of direct numerical simulation and the solution of a long-wave asymptotic model. The direct numerical simulations describe the evolution toward breakup of an inviscid bubble, while the effects of small but non-zero interior viscosity are readily included in the long-wave model for a fluid thread in the Stokes flow limit. The direct numerical simulations use a specific but realizable and representative initial bubble shape to compare the evolution toward breakup of a clean or surfactant-free bubble and a bubble that is coated with insoluble surfactant. A distinguishing feature of the evolution in the presence of surfactant is the interruption of bubble breakup by formation of a slender quasi-steady thread of the interior fluid. This forms because the decrease in surface area causes a decrease in the surface tension and capillary pressure, until at a small but non-zero radius, equilibrium occurs between the capillary pressure and interior fluid pressure. The long-wave asymptotic model, for a thread with periodic boundary conditions, explains the principal mechanism of the slender thread's formation and confirms, for example, the relatively minor role played by the Marangoni stress. The large-time evolution of the slender thread and the precise location of its breakup are, however, influenced by effects such as the Marangoni stress and surface diffusion of surfactant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-340
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 10 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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