Thermally induced aggregation of rigid spheres on a liquid surface

Eric Forgoston, Leo Hentschker, Siobhan Soltau, Patrick Truitt, Ashwin Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluids provide the optimal setting to explore natural patterns far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Experiments suggest that randomly dispersed particles on a liquid surface tend to aggregate on the surface of liquid over time, and the process is enhanced by an increase in the temperature of the liquid. We show that the agglomeration radii increases monotonically with temperature up until the point where all particles in the system form a single, large aggregate. The aggregation dynamics is related to changes in the material properties of the liquid including its viscosity and surface tension as well as the convection driven flow generated on the fluid surface. In this article we compare our experimental observations with analytical asymptotic results. The analytical arguments are seen to agree well with the experimental observations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-231
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics Letters, Section A: General, Atomic and Solid State Physics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 8 Jan 2016


  • Aggregation
  • Capillary
  • Convection
  • Surface tension
  • Temperature


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