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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Oct 26;99(17):174501. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Destabilization of a Saffman-Taylor fingerlike pattern in a granular suspension.

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Laboratoire de Physique et Mécanique des Milieux Hétégogènes (PMMH), UMR 7636 CNRS - ESPCI - Universités Paris 6 et 7, 10, rue Vauquelin, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.


We study the Saffman-Taylor instability in a granular suspension formed by micrometric beads immersed in a viscous liquid. When using an effective viscosity for the flow of the suspension in the Hele-Shaw cell to define the control parameter of the system, the results for the finger width of stable fingers are found to be close to the classical results of Saffman-Taylor. One observes, however, an early destabilization of the fingers that can be attributed to the discrete nature of the individual grains. Classically, the threshold of destabilization is linked to the noise in the cell and is thus difficult to quantify. We show that the grains represent a "controlled noise" and produce an initial perturbation of the interface with an amplitude proportional to the grain size. The finite amplitude instability mechanism proposed by Bensimon et al. allows us to link this perturbation to the value of the threshold observed.

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