Is there any substantial body of work in physics on dynamically simulating effects of surface tension on liquids? The texts i found so far on fluid dynamics all seem to ignore surface tension, probably because they concentrate on liquids without free surfaces and fluid mechanics texts consider only special cases, like how far water edge raises in a glass. What i want to do is simulate something like droplets of water on flat glass. The problem seems very different from typical fluid dynamics, first the mass of liquid is very small in comparison to cohesive forces between glass and liquid and liquid molecules with themselves(surface tension), which means there should be virtually no movement in absence of external forces, once surface tension resolves into equilibrium with weight of liquid. Besides there are free surfaces around water droplets. How would you even approach simulating cohesive forces? As negative pressure? I know about causes of surface tension, but I don't understand how it relates to computational fluid dynamics. Is there an article, book or anything that could serve as example?

My knowledge of fluid dynamics is pretty limited thus far, but I'm planning to spend considerable time catching up to anything I need, I just wanted to find out if someone has already done what I'm trying to do and save me few years of study :).


closed as off topic by user10851, dmckee Jun 25 '13 at 15:35

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  • $\begingroup$ Unless I'm wrong, you have posted to the wrong site. From the "on-topic" help page: "Some kinds of questions should not be asked here: [...] Computational questions If your question is about writing a simulation or other program, and it concerns the algorithms, execution, or presentation of the results [...], it is probably more appropriate at Computational Science." If I misunderstand, please clarify the question (edit) and then flag for to get this re-opened. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Jun 25 '13 at 15:35

There are a lot of methods to calculate free surface or multiphase flows, and most of them have some implementation of surface tension forces.

A small list:

  • $\begingroup$ Okey, so it seems i would still have to simulate it as normal continuous liquid just with multiple phases and then use some method to actually visualize that free surface. I just didn't think of surrounding air as liquid in a different phase, makes sense now. Now I need to figure out how to simulate multiphase liquids. $\endgroup$ – vlsh Jun 22 '13 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ You have to think in term of fluids instead of liquids and gasses :) Also, the last method is able to move the mesh according to the interface. This guy has some awesome movies on his website: ecs.umass.edu/~smenon/#research $\endgroup$ – Bernhard Jun 22 '13 at 7:59

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