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Bifurcations and control of propagating bubbles in Hele-Shaw channels

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  • UserDr. Alice Thompson (University of Manchester)
  • ClockFriday 04 February 2022, 12:30-13:30
  • HouseCUED, LR3A.

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The propagation of a deformable air finger or bubble into a fluid-filled channel with an imposed pressure gradient is a classical problem first studied by Saffman and Taylor within the context of a depth-averaged model. At zero surface tension, fingers of any width may exist, but the inclusion of vanishingly small surface tension selects symmetric fingers of discrete finger widths. At finite surface tension, Vanden-Broeck later showed that other families of ‘exotic’ states exist, but these states are all linearly unstable and cannot be observed directly in experiments.

In this talk, I will discuss the related problem of air bubble propagation into rigid channels with axially-uniform, but non-rectangular, cross-sections. By including a centred constriction in the channel, multiple modes of propagation can be stabilised, including symmetric, asymmetric and oscillatory states, with a correspondingly rich bifurcation structure. These phenomena can be predicted via depth-averaged modelling, and also observed in our experiments, with quantitative agreement between the two in appropriate parameter regimes. This agreement provides insight into the physical mechanisms underlying the observed behaviour. I will outline our efforts to understand how the system dynamics is affected by the presence of nearby unstable solution branches acting as edge states. Finally, I will discuss our recent work on how feedback control and control-based continuation could enable direct experimental observation of stable or unstable modes.

This talk is part of the Fluid Mechanics (CUED) series.

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