Direct measurement of capillary attraction between floating disks
Two bodies resting at a fluid interface may interact laterally due to the surface deformations they induce. Here we use an applied magnetic force to perform direct measurements of the capillary attraction force between centimetric disks floating at an air-water interface. We compare our measurements to numerical simulations that take into account the disk’s vertical displacement and spontaneous tilt, showing that both effects are necessary to describe the attraction force for short distances. We characterize the dependence of the attraction force on the disk mass, diameter, and relative spacing, and develop a scaling law that captures the observed dependence of the capillary force on the experimental parameters.