A multiscale approach to mesh-based surface tension flows

Nils Thürey, Chris Wojtan, Markus Gross, Greg Turk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We present an approach to simulate flows driven by surface tension based on triangle meshes. Our method consists of two simulation layers: the first layer is an Eulerian method for simulating surface tension forces that is free from typical strict time step constraints. The second simulation layer is a Lagrangian finite element method that simulates sub-grid scale wave details on the fluid surface. The surface wave simulation employs an unconditionally stable, symplectic time integration method that allows for a high propagation speed due to strong surface tension. Our approach can naturally separate the grid-and sub-grid scales based on a volumepreserving mean curvature flow. As our model for the sub-grid dynamics enforces a local conservation of mass, it leads to realistic pinch off and merging effects. In addition to this method for simulating dynamic surface tension effects, we also present an efficient non-oscillatory approximation for capturing damped surface tension behavior. These approaches allow us to efficiently simulate complex phenomena associated with strong surface tension, such as Rayleigh-Plateau instabilities and crown splashes, in a short amount of time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluid simulation
  • Physically based animation
  • Surface tension


Dive into the research topics of 'A multiscale approach to mesh-based surface tension flows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this