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Capillary Collapse and Rupture

By T. S. Lundgren & D. D. Joseph

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

(January, 2005)


The breakup of a liquid capillary filament is analyzed as a viscous potential flow near a stagnation point on the centerline of the filament towards which the surface collapses under the action of surface tension forces. We find that the neck is of parabolic shape and its radius collapses to zero in a finite time; the curvature at the throat tends to zero much faster than the radius, leading ultimately to a microthread of nearly uniform radius. During the collapse the tensile stress due to viscosity increases in value until at a certain finite radius, which is about 1.5 microns for water in air, the stress in the throat passes into tension, presumably inducing cavitation there.