We present an experimental and theoretical investigation of a system composed of two soap bubbles strained between two parallel solid surfaces. The two-bubble cluster can be found in several configurations. The existence and stability of each of these states is studied as a function of the distance between the two facing surfaces. The change of this distance can induce a transition from one configuration to another; we observe that most transitions are subcritical, showing that the system is often trapped in states where the minimum of free energy is only local. The hysteretic transitions are responsible for the dissipation of elastic energy. The existence of more than one stable states for given boundaries conditions combined with the absence of thermalization means that the history of the system has to be taken into account and that there is no unique stress-strain relation. In the present system, because of its simplicity, a complete quantitative analysis of these general processes is obtained. The presented results may contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of more complex systems such as foams or granular materials where similar processes are at work.
PACS.82.70.Rr Aerosols and foams 47.20.Dr Surface-tension-driven instability
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