Instability suppression in viscoelastic film flows down an inclined plane lined with a deformable solid layer

Aashish Jain, V. Shankar

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The linear stability of viscoelastic (Oldroyd-B) film flow down an inclined plane lined with a deformable (neo-Hookean) solid layer is analyzed using low-wave-number asymptotic analysis and the Chebyshev-Tau spectral numerical method. The free surface of film flows of viscoelastic liquids, unlike that of their Newtonian counterparts, becomes unstable in flow down a rigid inclined surface even in the absence of fluid inertia, due to the elastic nature of the liquids. For film flow past a deformable solid, our low-wave-number asymptotic analysis reveals that the solid deformability has a stabilizing effect on the free-surface instability, and, remarkably, this prediction is insensitive to rheology of the liquid film, be it viscoelastic or Newtonian. Using the spectral numerical method, we demonstrate that the free-surface instability can be completely suppressed at all wave numbers when the solid becomes sufficiently deformable. For the case of pure polymeric liquids without any solvent, when the solid layer is made further deformable, both the free surface and the liquid-solid interface are destabilized at finite wave numbers. We also demonstrate a type of mode exchange phenomenon between the modes corresponding to the two interfaces. Importantly, our numerical results show that there is a sufficient range of shear modulus of the solid where both the modes are stable at all wave numbers. For polymer solutions described by the Oldroyd-B model, while the free-surface instability is suppressed by the deformable solid, a host of new unstable modes appear at finite Reynolds number and wave number because of the coupling between liquid flow and free shear waves in the solid. Our study thus demonstrates that the elastohydrodynamic coupling between liquid flow and solid deformation can be exploited either to suppress the free-surface instability (present otherwise in rigid inclines) in viscoelastic film flows, or to induce new instabilities that are absent in flow adjacent to rigid surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number046314
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 23 2007
Externally publishedYes


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