Nonlinear parametrically excited surface waves in surfactant-covered thin liquid films

O. K. Matar, S. Kumar, R. V. Craster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The effect of gravity modulation on the nonlinear evolution of long-wavelength disturbances at the free surface of a surfactant-covered thin liquid layer is studied. The surfactants, which are assumed to be insoluble, give rise to interfacial concentration gradients and associated Marangoni flow in the underlying liquid film. A coupled system of lubrication-theory-based evolution equations for the film height and surfactant concentration is solved numerically using spectral methods. Previous work using Floquet theory had determined that small-amplitude long-wavelength disturbances are destabilized by gravity modulation in the presence of surfactant; uncontaminated films were found to be linearly stable. Our numerical results indicate that uncontaminated free surfaces are destabilized by nonlinearities and exhibit a harmonic response. The interface exhibits complex dynamics during a forcing cycle, characterized by numerous coalescence events between thickened fluid ridges leading to coarsening. The presence of surfactant-induced Marangoni flow gives rise to a harmonic response, larger scale fluid structures of reduced amplitude, less frequent coalescence events, and less complicated film dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-265
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Dec 10 2004


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