Stability of soap films: hysteresis and nucleation of black films

V. Castelletto, I. Cantat, Dipak Sarker, R. Bausch, D. Bonn, J. Meunier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the stability of soap films of a nonionic surfactant under different applied capillary pressures on the film. Depending on the pressure, either a thick common black film (CBF), or a microscopically thin Newton black film (NBF) is formed as a (metastable) equilibrium state, with a first-order (discontinuous) transition between the two. Studying the dynamics of the CBF-NBF transition, it is found that under certain conditions a hysteresis for the transition is observed: for a given range of pressures, either of the two states may be observed. We quantify the nucleation process that is at the basis of these observations both experimentally and theoretically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)0483021-0483024
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • wetting transitions
  • Energy


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