On the shape of giant soap bubbles

Caroline Cohen, Baptiste Darbois Texier, Etienne Reyssat (Corresponding Author), Jacco H. Snoeijer, David Quéré, Christophe Clanet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
173 Downloads (Pure)


We study the effect of gravity on giant soap bubbles and show that it becomes dominant above the critical size ℓ=a2/e0ℓ=a2/e0, where e0e0 is the mean thickness of the soap film and a=γb/ρg−√a=γb/ρg is the capillary length (
γbγb stands for vapor–liquid surface tension, and ρρ stands for the liquid density). We first show experimentally that large soap bubbles do not retain a spherical shape but flatten when increasing their size. A theoretical model is then developed to account for this effect, predicting the shape based on mechanical equilibrium. In stark contrast to liquid drops, we show that there is no mechanical limit of the height of giant bubble shapes. In practice, the physicochemical constraints imposed by surfactant molecules limit the access to this large asymptotic domain. However, by an exact analogy, it is shown how the giant bubble shapes can be realized by large inflatable structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2515-2519
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017

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