Acrobatics of Liquid Ropes

25 February 2016

Honey poured from a sufficient height onto toast undergoes the well-known `liquid rope coiling’ instability.

We have studied this instability using a combination of laboratory experiments, theory, and numerics, with the aim of determining phase diagrams and scaling laws for the different coiling modes. Finite-amplitude coiling has four distinct modes - viscous, gravitational, inertio-gravitational, and inertial - depending on how the viscous forces that resist deformation of the rope are balanced. The inertio-gravitational mode is particularly interesting as it involves resonance between the coiling portion of the rope and its long trailing `tail’. Further experiments using less viscous fluids reveal that the rope can exhibit five different morphologies, of which steady coiling is only one. We determine the detailed phase diagram of these morphologies, which includes a novel `liquid supercoiling’

state in which the coiled cylinder formed by the primary coiling instability undergoes in turn its own complex buckling instability.  We show that the onset of these different patterns is determined by a non-penetrability condition which takes different forms in the viscous, gravitational and inertial limits. To close, we will briefly evoke two additional related phenomena: spiral waves of bubbles generated by coiling, and the `fluid mechanical sewing machine’ in which the fluid falls onto a moving belt.

  • Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar