Marangoni-driven film climbing on a draining pre-wetted film

Nan Xue, Min Y. Pack, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Marangoni flow is the motion induced by a surface tension gradient along a fluid-fluid interface. In this study, we report a Marangoni flow generated when a bath of surfactant contacts a pre-wetted film of deionized water on a vertical substrate. The thickness profile of the pre-wetted film is set by gravitational drainage and so varies with the drainage time. The surface tension is lower in the bath due to the surfactant, and thus a liquid film climbs upwards along the vertical substrate due to the surface tension difference. Particle tracking velocimetry is performed to measure the dynamics in the film, where the mean fluid velocity reverses direction as the draining film encounters the front of the climbing film. The effect of the surfactant concentration and the pre-wetted film thickness on the film climbing is then studied. High-speed interferometry is used to measure the front position of the climbing film and the film thickness profile. As a result, higher surfactant concentration induces a faster and thicker climbing film. Also, for high surfactant concentrations, where Marangoni driving dominates, increasing the film thickness increases the rise speed of the climbing front, since viscous resistance is less important. In contrast, for low surfactant concentrations, where Marangoni driving balances gravitational drainage, increasing the film thickness decreases the rise speed of the climbing front while enhancing gravitational drainage. We rationalize these observations by utilizing a dimensionless parameter that compares the magnitudes of the Marangoni stress and gravitational drainage. A model is established to analyse the climbing front, either in the Marangoni-driving-dominated region or in the Marangoni-balanced drainage region. Our work highlights the effects of the gravitational drainage on the Marangoni flow, both by setting the thickness of a pre-wetted film and by resisting the film climbing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA24
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Thin films


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