Clustering of particles in turbulence due to phoresis

L. Schmidt*, I. Fouxon, D. Krug, M. Van Reeuwijk, M. Holzner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


We demonstrate that diffusiophoretic, thermophoretic, and chemotactic phenomena in turbulence lead to clustering of particles on multifractal sets that can be described using one single framework, valid when the particle size is much smaller than the smallest length scale of turbulence  l0. To quantify the clustering, we derive positive pair correlations and fractal dimensions that hold for scales smaller than  l0. For scales larger than  l0the pair-correlation function is predicted to show a stretched exponential decay towards 1. In the case of inhomogeneous turbulence we find that the fractal dimension depends on the direction of inhomogeneity. By performing experiments with particles in a turbulent gravity current we demonstrate clustering induced by salinity gradients in conformity to the theory. The particle size in the experiment is comparable to
 l0, outside the strict validity region of the theory, suggesting that the theoretical predictions transfer to this practically relevant regime. This clustering mechanism may provide the key to the understanding of a multitude of processes such as formation of marine snow in the ocean and population dynamics of chemotactic bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Article number063110
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


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