Restoring universality to the pinch-off of a bubble

Amir A. Pahlavan, Howard A. Stone, Gareth H. McKinley, Ruben Juanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The pinch-off of a bubble is an example of the formation of a singularity, exhibiting a characteristic separation of length and time scales. Because of this scale separation, one expects universal dynamics that collapse into self-similar behavior determined by the relative importance of viscous, inertial, and capillary forces. Surprisingly, however, the pinch-off of a bubble in a large tank of viscous liquid is known to be nonuniversal. Here, we show that the pinch-off dynamics of a bubble confined in a capillary tube undergo a sequence of two distinct self-similar regimes, even though the entire evolution is controlled by a balance between viscous and capillary forces. We demonstrate that the early-time self-similar regime restores universality to bubble pinch-off by erasing the system’s memory of the initial conditions. Our findings have important implications for bubble/drop generation in microfluidic devices, with applications in inkjet printing, medical imaging, and synthesis of particulate materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13780-13784
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Bubble pinch-off
  • Finite-time singularity formation
  • Moving contact lines
  • Universality


Dive into the research topics of 'Restoring universality to the pinch-off of a bubble'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this