Shreyas Mandre

Associate Professor
Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick

Dynamics of a camphoric acid boat at the air–water interface Phys. Lett. A 382(17), 1176-1180 (2018) PDF

by Akella, Singh, Mandre and Bandi
Fluid Mechanics Surfactant


We report experiments on an agarose gel tablet loaded with camphoric acid (c-boat) spontaneously set into motion by surface tension gradients on the water surface. We observe three distinct modes of c-boat motion: harmonic mode where the c-boat speed oscillates sinusoidally in time, a steady mode where the c-boat maintains constant speed, and an intermittent mode where the c-boat maintains near-zero speed between sudden jumps in speed. Whereas all three modes have been separately reported before in different systems, controlled release of Camphoric Acid (CA) from the agarose gel matrix allowed the observation of all the three modes in the same system. These three modes are a result of a competition between the driving (surface tension gradients) and drag forces acting on the c-boat. Moreover we suggest that there exist two time scales corresponding to spreading of CA and boat motion and the mismatch of these two time scales give rise to the three modes in boat motion. We reproduced all the modes of motion by varying the air–water interfacial tension using Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS).