experimental studies in non-equilibrium physics

by Cressman, John Robert

Abstract (Summary)
This work is a collection of three experiments aimed at studying different facets of non-equilibrium dynamics. Chapter I concerns strongly compressible turbulence, which turns out to be very different from incompressible turbulence. The focus is on the dispersion of contaminants in such a flow. This type of turbulence can be studied, at very low mach number, by measuring the velocity fields of particles that float on a turbulently stirred body of water. It turns out that in the absence of incompressibility, the turbulence causes particles to cluster rather than to disperse. The implications of the observations are far reaching and include the transport of pollutants on the oceans surface, phytoplankton growth, as well as industrial applications. Chapter II deals with the effects of polymer additives on drag reduction and turbulent suppression, a well-known phenomenon that is not yet understood. In an attempt to simplify the problem, the effects of a polymer additive were investigated in a vortex street formed in a flowing soap film. Measurements suggest that an increase in elongational viscosity is responsible for a substantial reduction in periodic velocity fluctuations. This study also helps to illuminate the mechanism responsible for vortex separation in the wake of a bluff body. Chapter III describes an experiment designed to test a theoretical approach aimed at generalizing the classical fluctuation dissipation theorem (FDT). This theorem applies to systems driven only slightly away from thermal equilibrium, whereas ours, a liquid crystal undergoing electroconvection, is so strongly driven, that the FDT does not apply. Both theory and experiment focus on the flux in global power fluctuations. Physical limitations did not permit a direct test of the theory, however it was possible to establish several interesting characteristics of the system: the source of the fluctuations is the transient defect structures that are generated when the system is driven hard. It is found that the power fluctuations are spatially uncorrelated, but strongly correlated in time and even quasi-periodic.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:walter I goldburg; Carson C Chow ; Rob Coalson; Xiao-lun Wu; Yadin Y goldschmidt

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/16/2004

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