A flow velocity dependence of dynamic surface tension in Plateau borders of foam

Christopher Clarke*, Fotis Spyropoulos, Ian T. Norton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Hypothesis: Liquid drainage through foams is a multiscale process, that primarily occurs through channels known as Plateau borders (PBs). Recent experimental studies of isolated PBs have observed variations in channel surface tension, γ, with liquid flow rate, Q, for systems containing soluble low molecular weight surfactant (LMWS). The current study proposes that the dynamic surface tension (DST) could be responsible for this effect, where the residence time of surfactant molecules in the PB is similar to the time required for their adsorption to the channel interface. 

Experiments: Profile geometries of isolated ‘ideal’ PB's were created in a bespoke experimental setup at controlled forced liquid flow rates. Average surfactant residence times, τRes, were calculated for solutions of Sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS), Tween 20 (T20) and Tween 80 (T80), and used to calculate corresponding average DST values in discrete regions of measured PB profiles. DST values were combined with microscale drainage theory to assess the potential physical implications on liquid flow.

Findings: Significant variations in the magnitude of γ were calculated based on surfactant characteristics, where only the rapid adsorption of SDS was sufficient to produce DST values approaching equilibrium. These findings seriously question assumptions of near equilibrium surface tension in LMWS foam systems above their critical micelle concentration (CMC). Furthermore, the presence of surface tension gradients identified using this discrete approach, highlights the need to further refine the current theory to a continuous approach incorporating Marangoni effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-359
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date7 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Drainage
  • Dynamics
  • Flow
  • Foams
  • Interfaces
  • Isolated
  • Microscale
  • Surfactants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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