Gas-Liquid Foam Dynamics: From Structural Elements to Continuum Descriptions

Peter S. Stewart, Sascha Hilgenfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Gas-liquid foams are important in applications ranging from oil recovery and mineral flotation to food science and microfluidics. Beyond their practical use, they represent an intriguing prototype of a soft material with a complex, viscoelastic rheological response. Crucially, foams allow detailed access to fluid-dynamical processes on the mesoscale of bubbles underlying the large-scale material behavior. This review emphasizes the importance of the geometry and interaction of mesoscale structural elements for the description of the dynamics of entire foams. Using examples including bulk flow of foam under steady shear, interfacial instabilities, and foam fracture through bubble rupture, this article highlights the wide variety of available theoretical descriptions, ranging from network modeling approaches coupling structural element equations of motion to full continuum models with elastoviscoplastic constitutive relations. Foams offer the opportunity to develop rigorous links between such disparate descriptions, providing a blueprint for physical modeling of dynamical multiscale systems with complex structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-350
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 19 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Foams
  • fluid mechanics
  • interfacial mechanics
  • rheology
  • soft matter
  • thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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