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  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 329
  • December 1996, pp. 207-245

Nonlinear deformation and breakup of stretching liquid bridges

  • X. Zhang (a1), R. S. Padgett (a2) and O. A. Basaran (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 25 December 1996

In this paper, the nonlinear dynamics of an axisymmetric liquid bridge held captive between two coaxial, circular, solid disks that are separated at a constant velocity are considered. As the disks are continuously pulled apart, the bridge deforms and ultimately breaks when its length attains a limiting value, producing two drops that are supported on the two disks. The evolution in time of the bridge shape and the rupture of the interface are investigated theoretically and experimentally to quantitatively probe the influence of physical and geometrical parameters on the dynamics. In the computations, a one-dimensional model that is based on the slender jet approximation is used to simulate the dynamic response of the bridge to the continuous uniaxial stretching. The governing system of nonlinear, time-dependent equations is solved numerically by a method of lines that uses the Galerkin/finite element method for discretization in space and an adaptive, implicit finite difference technique for discretization in time. In order to verify the model and computational results, extensive experiments are performed by using an ultra-high-speed video system to monitor the dynamics of liquid bridges with a time resolution of 1/12 th of a millisecond. The computational and experimental results show that as the importance of the inertial force – most easily changed in experiments by changing the stretching velocity – relative to the surface tension force increases but does not become too large and the importance of the viscous force – most easily changed by changing liquid viscosity – relative to the surface tension force increases, the limiting length that a liquid bridge is able to attain before breaking increases. By contrast, increasing the gravitational force – most readily controlled by varying disk radius or liquid density – relative to the surface tension force reduces the limiting bridge length at breakup. Moreover, the manner in which the bridge volume is partitioned between the pendant and sessile drops that result upon breakup is strongly influenced by the magnitudes of viscous, inertial, and gravitational forces relative to surface tension ones. Attention is also paid here to the dynamics of the liquid thread that connects the two portions of the bridge liquid that are pendant from the top moving rod and sessile on the lower stationary rod because the manner in which the thread evolves in time and breaks has important implications for the closely related problem of drop formation from a capillary. Reassuringly, the computations and the experimental measurements are shown to agree well with one another.

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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
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