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Revisiting the Rayleigh–Plateau instability for the nanoscale

  • Chengxi Zhao (a1), James E. Sprittles (a2) and Duncan A. Lockerby (a1)
Abstract

The theoretical framework developed by Rayleigh and Plateau in the 19th century has been remarkably accurate in describing macroscale experiments of liquid cylinder instability. Here we re-evaluate and revise the Rayleigh–Plateau instability for the nanoscale, where molecular dynamics experiments demonstrate its inadequacy. A new framework based on the stochastic lubrication equation is developed that captures nanoscale flow features and highlights the critical role of thermal fluctuations at small scales. Remarkably, the model indicates that classically stable (i.e. ‘fat’) liquid cylinders can be broken at the nanoscale, and this is confirmed by molecular dynamics.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Email addresses for correspondence: J.E.Sprittles@warwick.ac.uk, D.Lockerby@warwick.ac.uk
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Journal of Fluid Mechanics
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