Bénard-Marangoni instability driven by moisture absorption

Sangwoo Shin, Ian Jacobi, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Glycerol is a viscous liquid widely used in industry and known for its strong hygroscopic nature. While this unusual property has been well documented from the perspective of solution chemistry, its impact on the mechanical properties of glycerol remains largely unknown. Here, we report a spontaneous Bénard-Marangoni instability in pure glycerol driven by absorption of water vapor. Even under standard laboratory conditions, ambient humidity is sufficient to drive distinct Bénard-Marangoni convection cells for hours. We describe the mechanism of this instability in terms of the vapor transport process and competition between solutal and thermal Marangoni forces, and provide insight into potential uses and impact of this aspect of dynamics driven by moisture absorption in various common settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24002
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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