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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2003 Apr;67(4 Pt 2):046302. Epub 2003 Apr 14.

Thermal convection in binary fluid mixtures with a weak concentration diffusivity, but strong solutal buoyancy forces.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung, D-55021 Mainz, Germany.


Thermal convection in binary liquid mixtures is investigated in the limit where the solutal diffusivity is weak, but the separation ratio is large. Representative examples are colloidal suspensions such as ferrofluids. With a grain size being large on molecular length scales, the particle mobility is extremely small, allowing to disregard the concentration dynamics in most cases. However, this simplification does not hold for thermal convection: Due to the pronounced Soret effect of these materials in combination with a considerable solutal expansion, the resulting solutal buoyancy forces are dominant. Indeed, convective motion is found to set in at Rayleigh numbers well below the critical threshold for single-component liquids. A nonlinear analysis demonstrates that the amplitude quickly saturates in a state of stationary convective motion.

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