Articles

Spreading of Liquids on Highly Curved Surfaces

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Science  14 Sep 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4974, pp. 1256-1260
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4974.1256

Abstract

Because of surface tension, liquid films coating fibers or the insides of capillary tubes are usually unstable and break up into a periodic array of droplets. However, if these films are very thin (of thickness in the range of tens of angstroms), they can be stabilized by long-range van der Waals forces. A simple method for making such wetting films consists of slowly drawing the fiber out of a bath of liquid; the thickness of the film is then measured using a method based on gas chromatography. If these liquid films are thick, and are forced to flow, they may then not break up: the instability becomes "saturated."