Stability of big surface bubbles: impact of evaporation and bubble size†
Surface bubbles have attracted much interest in the past few decades. In this article, we aim to explore the lifetime and thinning dynamics of centimetric surface bubbles. We study the impact of the bubble size as well as that of the atmospheric humidity through a careful control and systematic variation of the relative humidity in the measuring chamber. We first address the question of the drainage under saturated water vapor conditions and show that a model including both capillary and gravity driven drainage provides the best prediction for this process. Additionally, unprecedented statistics on the bubble lifetimes confirm experimentally that this parameter is set by evaporation to leading order. We make use of a model based on the overall thinning dynamics of the thin film and assume a rupture thickness of the order 10–100 nm to obtain a good representation of these data. For experiments conducted far from saturation, the convective evaporation of the bath is shown to dominate the overall mass loss in the cap film due to evaporation.