Vol. 267, No. 1, 2014

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ISSN: 0030-8730
Numerical study of unbounded capillary surfaces

Yasunori Aoki and Hans De Sterck

Vol. 267 (2014), No. 1, 1–34
Abstract

Unbounded capillary surfaces in domains with a sharp corner or a cusp are studied. It is shown how numerical study using a proposed computational methodology leads to two new conjectures for open problems on the asymptotic behavior of capillary surfaces in domains with a cusp. The numerical methodology contains two simple but important ingredients, a change of variable and a change of coordinates, which are inspired by known asymptotic approximations for unbounded capillary surfaces. These ingredients are combined with the finite volume element or Galerkin finite element methods. Extensive numerical tests show that the proposed computational methodology leads to a global approximation method for singular solutions of the Laplace–Young equation that recovers the proper asymptotic behavior at the singular point, is more accurate and has better convergence properties than numerical methods considered for singular capillary surfaces before. Using this computational methodology, two open problems on the asymptotic behavior of capillary surfaces in domains with a cusp are studied numerically, leading to two conjectures that may guide future analytical work on these open problems.

Keywords
singularity, asymptotic analysis, nonlinear elliptic PDE, Laplace–Young equation, finite element method
Mathematical Subject Classification 2010
Primary: 35J25, 65N30, 76B45, 35J75
Milestones
Received: 13 June 2012
Revised: 18 September 2012
Accepted: 24 September 2012
Published: 22 December 2013
Authors
Yasunori Aoki
Department of Applied Mathematics
University of Waterloo
200 University Ave. West
Waterloo N2L 3G1
Canada
Hans De Sterck
Department of Applied Mathematics
University of Waterloo
200 University Ave. West
Waterloo N2L 3G1
Canada