Using Faraday Waves to Measure Interfacial Tension

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We use Faraday waves to measure interfacial tension σ between two immiscible fluids, with an interest in (ultra)low values of σ. The waves are excited by vertically oscillating the container in which the fluids reside. Using linear stability theory, we map out the accessible range of interfacial tensions. The smallest value (σmin ≈ 5 × 10-4 N/m) is limited by the joint influence of gravity and viscous dissipation. A further limitation is posed by the greatest accelerations that can be realized in a laboratory. We perform experiments on a water-dodecane interface with an increasing concentration of a surfactant in the water layer that decreases the interfacial tension into the ultralow domain [σ = [Formula: see text](10-6 N/m)]. Surprisingly, the smallest measured wavelength is larger by a factor of 2 than that predicted for vanishing σ. We hypothesize the effect of transport of the surfactant in the fluid flow associated with the waves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5872-5879
JournalLangmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Surface tension
  • Fluids
  • Interfaces
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Surfactants


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