On the shape of giant soap bubbles

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

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Abstract

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
Volume114
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017

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soaps
bubbles
inflatable structures
interfacial tension
surfactants
gravitation
liquids
molecules

Cite this

Cohen, Caroline ; Darbois Texier, Baptiste ; Reyssat, Etienne ; Snoeijer, Jacco H. ; Quéré, David ; Clanet, Christophe. / On the shape of giant soap bubbles. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 ; Vol. 114, No. 10. pp. 2515-2519.
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On the shape of giant soap bubbles. / Cohen, Caroline; Darbois Texier, Baptiste; Reyssat, Etienne (Corresponding Author); Snoeijer, Jacco H.; Quéré, David; Clanet, Christophe.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 114, No. 10, 07.03.2017, p. 2515-2519.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Cohen, Caroline

AU - Darbois Texier, Baptiste

AU - Reyssat, Etienne

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AU - Clanet, Christophe

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AB - 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.

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