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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Dec 8;97(23):230601. Epub 2006 Dec 4.

Measurement of the translational and rotational Brownian motion of individual particles in a rarefied gas.

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  • 1Institut für Geophysik und Extraterrestrische Physik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstrabe 3, 38114 Braunschweig, Germany.


We measured the free Brownian motion of individual spherical and the Brownian rotation of individual nonspherical micrometer-sized particles in rarefied gas. Measurements were done with high spatial and temporal resolution under microgravity conditions in the Bremen drop tower so that the transition from diffusive to ballistic motion could be resolved. We find that the translational and rotational diffusion can be described by the relation given by Uhlenbeck and Ornstein [Phys. Rev. 36, 823 (1930)]. Measurements of rotational Brownian motion can be used for the determination of the moments of inertia of small particles.

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