Beams and bubbles: interplay between elastic, inertial, viscous, and interfacial mechanics
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Beams are ubiquitous in our everyday life and can be found in a variety of length scales, from large supports of buildings to carbon nanotubes. Similarly, bubbles can also span a variety of scales, ranging from tiny bubbles in a glass filled with champagne to the giant soap bubbles formed by artists to attract crowds. Yet, the behavior of beams and bubbles can often occur so fast that the dynamics go unnoticed. This dissertation aims to understand the mechanics of beams and bubbles in four different examples. We combine table-top experiments with mathematical models to predict how each system will behave when exposed to different extreme conditions. We start by examining the retraction of a rubber band once it has been stretched and released. This process is similar to plucking a string, where the dynamics are governed by tensile and inertial forces, resulting in a trapezoidal shape during retraction. However when a rubber band is stretched and released, a region of high-curvature develops. Our experiments and mathematical model highlight that bending forces can be significant and give rise to a curved self-similar shape to the retracting rubber band. The next example involves the competition of surface tension and twisting on a flexible rod. Most studies in the field of elasto-capillarity have focused on how surface tension can bend an elastic structure, leaving the possibility of twisting unexplored. Here we utilize particles with discrete wettabilities -- or Janus particles -- at liquid interfaces that can be used to twist a flexible cylinder. The third system is focused around the spreading behavior of bubbles on submerged surfaces coated with a layer of oil. These liquid-infused surfaces have remarkable applications due to their ability to minimize contact line pinning. However, this property has mostly been exploited using liquid drops. We here study the early spreading behavior of a bubble once it has made contact with the liquid-infused surface. The final chapter is centered around the collapse of bubbles resting on the surface of an ultra viscous liquid. When a bubble on such a surface is ruptured, the bubble film collapses vertically downwards, leading scientists to believe that gravity is driving the collapse. Yet, interfacial forces are dominant in highly curved liquid surfaces and exceed gravitational forces. By turning the setup upside-down, we show that surface tension is indeed responsible for the collapse and the subsequent wrinkling instability that develops.