An analytical theory for the capillary bridge force between spheres

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    Abstract

    An analytical theory has been developed for properties of a steady, axisymmetric liquid–gas capillary bridge that is present between two identical, perfectly wettable, rigid spheres. In this theory the meridional profile of the capillary bridge surface is represented by a part of an ellipse. Parameters in this geometrical description are determined from the boundary conditions at the three-phase contact circle at the sphere and at the neck (i.e. in the middle between the two spheres) and by the condition that the mean curvature be equal at the three-phase contact circle and at the neck. Thus, the current theory takes into account properties of the governing Young–Laplace equation, contrary to the often-used toroidal approximation. Expressions have been developed analytically that give the geometrical parameters of the elliptical meridional profile as a function of the capillary bridge volume and the separation between the spheres. A rupture criterion has been obtained analytically that provides the maximum separation between the spheres as a function of the capillary bridge volume. This rupture criterion agrees well with a rupture criterion from the literature that is based on many numerical solutions of the Young–Laplace equation. An expression has been formulated analytically for the capillary force as a function of the capillary bridge volume and the separation between the spheres. The theoretical predictions for the capillary force agree well with the capillary forces obtained from the numerical solutions of the Young–Laplace equation and with those according to a comprehensive fit from the literature (that is based on many numerical solutions of the Young–Laplace equation), especially for smaller capillary bridge volumes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-151
    JournalJournal of fluid mechanics
    Volume812
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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