Royal Society Publishing

The Shape and Stability of Rotating Liquid Drops

R. A. Brown, L. E. Scriven


Equilibrium shapes and stability of rotating drops held together by surface tension are found by computer-aided analysis that uses expansions in finite-element basis functions. Shapes are calculated as extrema of appropriate energies. Stability and relative stability are determined from curvatures of the energy surface in the neighbourhood of the extremum. Families of axisymmetric, two-, three- and four-lobed drop shapes are traced systematically. Bifurcation and turning points are located and the principle of exchange of stabilities is tested. The axisymmetric shapes are stable at low rotation rates but lose stability at the bifurcation to two-lobed shapes. Two-lobed drops isolated with constant angular momentum are stable. The results bear on experiments designed to further those of Plateau (1863).

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