Journal of Visualization

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 53–61 | Cite as

High-speed visualization of soap bubble blowing and image-processing-based analysis of pinch-off dynamics

  • John Davidson
  • Sangjin Ryu
Regular Paper


Soap bubble blowing has long been an amusement for humans, and the process involves pinch-off similarly to liquid drops and gas bubbles. To visualize the pinch-off process of soap bubble blowing, we built an apparatus consisting of air jet flow and thin soap film on a circular ring, and replicated human soap bubbling. High-speed videography captured growing soap film tube and following pinch-off, and the minimal neck radius of the tube was measured based on image processing. Scaling law analyses show that regardless of the ring diameter, the scaling exponent of soap bubble pinch-off is about 2/3, which is similar to that of soap film bridge. Also, the speed of the airflow into the tube was evaluated based on volume calculation of the soap film tube, and the Reynolds number of the airflow was estimated to be 1060–2970, which suggests that soap bubbling may involve Bernoulli suction effect.

Graphical abstract


Soap bubble Pinch-off Scaling law Surface tension High-speed videography Bernoulli suction effect 



This work was supported by the start-up grant to SR from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The authors appreciate Dr. Howard Stone for his general comments on the study.

Supplementary material

12650_2016_367_MOESM1_ESM.avi (682 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (Avi 10127 kb)
12650_2016_367_MOESM2_ESM.avi (848 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (Avi 682 kb)
12650_2016_367_MOESM3_ESM.avi (16.8 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (Avi 848 kb)
12650_2016_367_MOESM4_ESM.avi (10 mb)
Supplementary material 4 (Avi 17191 kb)
12650_2016_367_MOESM5_ESM.avi (9.9 mb)
Supplementary material 5 (Avi 10201 kb)
12650_2016_367_MOESM6_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material 6 (Docx 1105 kb)


  1. Bai X-D, Liu J (2007) Formation of micro/nano structures out of soap bubbles. Phys E 39:85–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Behroozi F (2008) Soap bubbles in paintings: art and science. Am J Phys 76:1087–1091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boys CV (1889) Soap bubbles: their colors and the forces which mold them. Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Brenner MP, Eggers J, Joseph K, Nagel SR, Shi XD (1997) Breakdown of scaling in droplet fission at high Reynolds number. Phys Fluids 9:1573–1590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burton JC, Waldrep R, Taborek P (2005) Scaling and instabilities in bubble pinch-off. Phys Rev Lett 94:184502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen Y-J, Steen PH (1997) Dynamics of inviscid capillary breakup: collapse and pinchoff of a film bridge. J Fluid Mech 341:245–267MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. Cryer SA, Steen PH (1992) Collapse of the soap-film bridge: quasistatic description. J Colloid Interface Sci 154:276–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Gennes P-G, Brochard-Wyart F, Quéré D (2004) Capillarity and wetting phenomena: drops, bubbles, pearls, waves. Springer, New YorkCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  9. Eggers J (1993) Universal pinching of 3D axisymmetric free-surface flow. Phys Rev Lett 71:3458–3460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fellouah H, Ball CG, Pollard A (2009) Reynolds number effects within the development region of a turbulent round free jet. Int J Heat Mass Transfer 52:3943–3954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gordillo JM, Sevilla A, Rodríguez-Rodríguez J, Martínez-Bazán C (2005) Axisymmetric bubble pinch-off at high Reynolds numbers. Phys Rev Lett 95:194501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Isenberg C (1978) The science of soap films and soap bubbles. Tieto Ltd., ClevedonzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  13. Keim NC, Møller P, Zhang WW, Nagel SR (2006) Breakup of air bubbles in water: memory and breakdown of cylindrical symmetry. Phys Rev Lett 97:144503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kim D, Yi SJ, Kim HD, Kim KC (2014) Visualization study on the transient liquid film behavior and inner gas flow after rupture of a soap bubble. J Vis 17:337–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mi J, Xu M, Zhou T (2013) Reynolds number influence on statistical behaviors of turbulence in a circular free jet. Phys Fluids 25:075101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Notz PK, Chen AU, Basaran OA (2001) Satellite drops: unexpected dynamics and change of scaling during pinch-off. Phys Fluids 13:549–552CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  17. Plateau J (1873) Experimental and theoretical statics of liquids subject to molecular forces only. Gauthier-Villars, PariszbMATHGoogle Scholar
  18. Prosperetti A (2004) Bubbles. Phys Fluids 16:1852–1865MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  19. Robinson ND, Steen PH (2001) Observations of singularity formation during the capillary collapse and bubble pinch-off of a soap film bridge. J Colloid Interface Sci 241:448–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Steen PH, Chen Y-J (1999) Contacting and forming singularities: distinguishing examples. Chaos 9:164–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thoroddsen ST, Etoh TG, Takehara K (2007) Experiments on bubble pinch-off. Phys Fluids 19:042101CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  22. Todde V, Spazzini PG, Sandberg M (2009) Experimental analysis of low Reynolds number free jets. Exp Fluids 47:279–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. van Hoeve W, Gekle S, Snoeijer JH, Versluis M, Brenner MP, Lohse D (2010) Breakup of diminutive Rayleigh jets. Phys Fluids 22:122003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. van Hoeve W, Dollet B, Versluis M, Lohse D (2011) Microbubble formation and pinch-off scaling exponent in flow-focusing devices. Phys Fluids 23:092001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Vouros AP, Panidis T (2013) Turbulent properties of a low Reynolds number, axisymmetric, pipe jet. Exp Therm Fluid Sci 44:42–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wilkes ED, Phillips SD, Basaran OA (1999) Computational and experimental analysis of dynamics of drop formation. Phys Fluids 11:3577–3598CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Visualization Society of Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations