How to Make a Giant Bubble Open Access

Frazier, Stephen C. (2016)

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Soap and water solutions can form massive, free floating films encompassing volumes in excess of 20 m3 with thicknesses of only 10-100 microns when mixed with polymeric additives. These films are interesting from a physical standpoint due to their long lifetime and stability in ambient environments. We have investigated a variety of mixtures which are deemed "optimal" for making large bubbles, such as solutions made from guar seeds and polyethylene oxide (PEO). Using a combination of shear rheology, drop-based extensional rheology, high-speed studies of bursting mechanics, and drainage rate measurements, we found that "optimal" solutions showed similar extensional properties even though their shear viscosity differed by more than an order of magnitude. Polymeric bubbles also showed increased stability to aging in dry environments. Most importantly, it was found that soap and water solutions with polymers added lived 2-3 times longer and drained more slowly than typical soap and water solutions. These results show that the addition of polymers make the formation of massive bubbles possible due to enhanced elongational characteristics and drastically lower drainage rates.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. 1

1.1 Basics of Surfactant Solutions. 2

1.2 Rheology Introduction. 5

1.3 Mechanics of Film Formation and Bursting. 7

1.3.1 Extensional Flow. 7

1.3.2 Bursting Mechanics. 8

1.4 Drainage. 9

1.5 Soap Bubble Wiki. 10

1.6 Thesis Outline. 12

Chapter 2: Rheological Studies of Polymer-Surfactant Solutions. 13

2.1 Introduction. 13

2.2 Methods. 14

2.2.1 Sample Preparation. 14

2.2.2 Rheological Methods. 15

2.3 Results and Discussion. 16

2.4 Conclusion. 18

Chapter 3: Extensional Flow and Bursting Mechanics of Polymer-Surfactant Films. 19

3.1 Introduction. 19

3.2 Methods. 20

3.2.1 Extensional Flow. 20

3.2.2 Bursting Mechanics. 21

3.3 Results and Discussion. 23

3.3.1 Extensional Flow results. 23

3.3.2 Bursting Mechanics Results. 25

3.4 Conclusion. 28

Chapter 4: Drainage Profiles of Vertical Polymer Surfactant Films. 30

4.1 Introduction. 30

4.2 Methods. 31

4.2.1 Sample Preparation. 31

4.2.2 Thickness Measurement Methods. 32

4.3 Results and Discussion. 36

4.4 Conclusion. 44

Chapter 5: Summary. 46

5.1 Effects of polymeric additives on the drainage behaviors of soap films. 46

Bibliography. 49

Non-printed sources. 53

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