Flowers Blooming in Thin Oil Films
Jie Feng (graduate student), Orest Shardt (postdoc), Howard A. Stone (faculty)
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
When a small quantity of oil is deposited on the surface of an aqueous solution of detergent molecules, the oil spreads into a thin film and then ruptures. Multiple holes appear in the film, and the oil ridges around the growing holes transform into intricate petal-like patterns in a process that is similar to the breakup of a liquid filament into droplets. These films with growing holes are like gardens of blooming interfacial flowers. This top-view image was captured with a standard digital SLR camera and macro lens. The rainbow-colored patterns are created by the interference of light from an LED panel, revealing the structure of the oil film. The area shown in the image is approximately 1.7 by 1.3 cm.