Macroscopic manifestations of surface crystallization

H. Gang, J. Patel, X. Z. Wu, M. Deutsch, O. Gang, B. M. Ocko, E. B. Sirota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Two rather dramatic and unusual, visually observable phenomena occurring in molten wax, are reported and explained: Shaking the liquid in a vial will yield a foam, even though no surfactant is present; dust spread on the liquid surface is seen to move laterally with surprising speed. We performed systematic measurements on a single-component wax, the n-alkane C20H42, visualizing the surface under linear temperature gradients and in the presence of gas slowly bubbling from below. These macroscopic effects are studied quantitatively, and shown to be macroscopic manifestations of the existence of a monomolecular crystalline alkane layer at the liquid-vapor interface. A proposed phase diagram for the thin bubble wall is shown to account for the bubbles' coalescence and bursting behavior. These results imply the existence of a new mechanism for foam stability and can be expected to broadly occur in systems containing alkyl-chains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-319
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1998


Dive into the research topics of 'Macroscopic manifestations of surface crystallization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this