Iterated stretching and multiple beads-on-a-string phenomena in dilute solutions of highly extensible flexible polymers

Mónica S. N. Oliveira and Gareth H. McKinley
Hatsopoulos Microfluids Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

(Received 2 March 2005; accepted 28 April 2005; published online 20 July 2005)

The dynamics of elastocapillary thinning in high molecular weight polymer solutions are reexamined using high-speed digital video microscopy. At long times, the evolution of the viscoelastic thread deviates from self-similar exponential decay and the competition of elastic, capillary, and inertial forces leads to the formation of a periodic array of beads connected by axially uniform ligaments. This configuration is itself unstable and successive instabilities propagate from the necks connecting the beads and the ligaments. This iterated process results in the development of multiple generations of beads in agreement with the predictions of Chang, Demekin, and Kalaidin ["Iterated stretching of viscoelastic jets," Phys. Fluids 11, 1717 (1999)] although experiments yield a different recursion relation between successive generations. At long times, finite molecular extensibility truncates the iterated instability and axial translation of the bead arrays along the interconnecting threads leads to a progressive coalescence before the rupture of the filament. ©2005 American Institute of Physics