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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2008 May;77(5 Pt 1):051118. Epub 2008 May 19.

Universality in early-stage growth of phase-separating domains near the critical point.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Charleston, 60 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29424, USA.


We present both the experimental and computational methods and results of phase-separating experiments performed with sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) close to its critical density. These experiments were performed in microgravity to suppress buoyancy and convection-driven effects. Phase separation under reduced gravity is analyzed for both 0.3 mK and 3.6 mK temperature quenches in order to derive the early-stage growth law. We found a 1/3 growth law for early stages of phase separation for a volume fraction of minority domains of 50%. Our findings support the hypothesis of a crossover between Brownian motion and hydrodynamic effects in the early stages of phase separation. The temperature inside the bulk of the pure fluid was estimated using a proposed histogram method. Our histogram method allowed temperature estimation below thermistors' sensitivity and detected small temperature variations inside the bulk of the pure fluid.

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