Stephane Poulain: Life and death of surface bubbles

Abstract: Upon burst, air bubbles release droplets that transfer biological and chemical materials from water bodies to the atmosphere. This mechanism is one of the main sources of cloud condensation nuclei and participates to airborne contamination when the bulk water contains pathogens. Predicting the size and composition of droplets emitted by bubbles requires a fundamental understanding of their dynamic at the surface, yet a consistent physical picture is lacking. Relying on experimental data from bubbles generated in various environments and using scaling analysis, I will show that surface tension gradients control the drainage of bubbles. I will also explain how local perturbations of surface tension can explain their seemingly stochastic burst mechanism. Consequences for application purposes will be mentioned throughout the presentation: I will notably take the examples of bubbles in saltwater and in water contaminated with bacteria.

This talk is part of the Mechanics Lunch Seminar series. That means 20min talks plus discussion in an informal setting.

Zoom: To obtain the Zoom meeting details please contact Timo Koch (timokoch at

Published Nov. 3, 2020 2:20 PM - Last modified Nov. 3, 2020 2:20 PM