Interplay between hydrodynamic and Brownian fluctuations in sedimenting colloidal suspensions

J.T. Padding, A.A. Louis

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    We apply a hybrid molecular dynamics and mesoscopic simulation technique to study the steady-state sedimentation of hard sphere particles for Peclet number (Pe) ranging from 0.08 to 12. Hydrodynamic backflow causes a reduction of the average sedimentation velocity relative to the Stokes velocity. We find that this effect is independent of Pe number. Velocity fluctuations show the expected effects of thermal fluctuations at short correlation times. At longer times, nonequilibrium hydrodynamic fluctuations are visible, and their character appears to be independent of the thermal fluctuations. The hydrodynamic fluctuations dominate the diffusive behavior even for modest Pe number, while conversely the short-time fluctuations are dominated by thermal effects for surprisingly large Pe numbers. Inspired by recent experiments, we also study finite sedimentation in a horizontal planar slit. In our simulations distinct lateral patterns emerge, in agreement with observations in the experiments. © 2008 The American Physical Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number011402
    Pages (from-to)011402-1/11
    Number of pages11
    JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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