Foam mechanics: Spontaneous rupture of thinning liquid films with Plateau borders

Anthony M. Anderson, Lucien N. Brush, Stephen H. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Spontaneous film rupture from van der Waals instability is investigated in two dimensions. The focus is on pure liquids with clean interfaces. This case is applicable to metallic foams for which surfactants are not available. There are important implications in aqueous foams as well, but the main differences are noted. A thin liquid film between adjacent bubbles in a foam has finite length, curved boundaries (Plateau borders) and a drainage flow from capillary suction that causes it to thin. A full linear stability analysis of this thinning film shows that rupture occurs once the film has thinned to tens of nanometres, whereas for a quiescent film with a constant and uniform thickness, rupture occurs when the thickness is hundreds of nanometres. Plateau borders and flow are both found to contribute to the stabilization. The drainage flow leads to several distinct qualitative features as well. In particular, unstable disturbances are advected by the flow to the edges of the thin film. As a result, the edges of the film close to the Plateau borders appear more susceptible to rupture than the centre of the film.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-88
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • breakup/coalescence
  • foams
  • instability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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