Direct numerical simulation of supercritical annular electroconvection

Peichun Tsai, Zahir A. Daya, Vatche B. Deyirmenjian, Stephen W. Morris

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We use direct numerical simulation to study electrically driven convection in an annular thin film. The simulation models a laboratory experiment that consists of a weakly conducting, submicron thick liquid crystal film suspended between two concentric electrodes. The film is driven to convect by imposing a sufficiently large voltage across it. The flow is driven by a surface charge density inversion which is unstable to the imposed electrical force. This mechanism is closely analogous to the mass density inversion which is unstable to the buoyancy force in conventional, thermally driven Rayleigh-Bénard convection. The simulation uses a pseudospectral method with Chebyshev polynomials in the radial direction and Fourier modes in the azimuthal direction. The numerical results, which are in good agreement with previous experimental data and theoretical predictions, reveal several insights. The mode competition near a codimension-two point exhibits hysteresis. The primary bifurcation is supercritical for a broad range of fluid and geometrical parameters
Original languageEnglish
Article number026305
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical review E: Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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