Oct 21, 2022

How Soap Molecules Move Over Water

Posted by in categories: information science, particle physics

Researchers can now predict exactly how soap molecules spread across a body of water, an everyday but surprisingly complex process.

When a tiny drop of soapy water falls onto a pool of liquid, its contents spread out over the pool’s surface. The dynamics of this spreading depend on the local concentration of soap—which varies in time and is difficult to predict—at each point across the entire pool’s surface. Now Thomas Bickel of the University of Bordeaux in Talence, France, and Francois Detcheverry of the University of Lyon, France, have derived an exact time-dependent solution for these distributions [1]. The solution reveals surprisingly rich behaviors in this everyday phenomenon.

The duo considered a surfactant-laden drop spreading over the surface of a deep pool of fluid. Researchers have previously shown that the equations governing the transport of the surfactant particles can be mapped to a partial differential equation known as the Burgers’ equation, which was initially developed to describe flows in turbulent fluids.

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