Imperial College London

Video produced by Imperial team wins American Physical Society award


Soap bubbles

A video produced by a team of Imperial researchers won the Gallery award in the American Physical Society's Gallery of Fluid motion competition.

The video “Before the bubble ruptures” explores in an accessible and visually striking manner how soap bubbles evolve and burst.

The film was shot and edited by Li Shen, a PhD student sponsored by Shell under the company’s University Technology Centre based at Imperial College London. Fabian Denner, Berend van Wachem and Daniele Dini from Imperial’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Neal Morgan from Shell Global Solutions UK were part of the team that contributed to the project.

Li Shen explains: “The video was taken in my kitchen using a simple bubble-film apparatus I made from a funnel and some dishwashing liquid, using the technique of interferometry, whereby you use colours to distinguish between the thickness of the bubble membrane on the film”.

A DSLR with a macro lens was used for the actual filming, and the entire shoot, including setup experiments, took about a month, working with morning light, with an additional week for editing.

The Gallery of Fluid Motion is an annual competition, “intended to be a visual record of the aesthetic and science of contemporary fluid mechanics, to be shared both with fellow researchers and the general public.” Winners are published in the APS journal Physical Review Fluids.

Watch the video


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering