Monday, December 26, 2011

Folding Complex Liquids Into Mountains And Valleys

There is no need to note that a single drop of liquid, like water is always perfectly smooth ...but in the case of  "complex"  fluids, researchers from the Paul Pascal Research Center have shown a strange regular folded structure that is composed of mountains and valleys (photo below).

Photo microscopy of folded structure in polarized light 
Credit:  CRPP, Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal

These complex fluids differ only simple fluids, the existence of a partial molecular order. This means that the molecules forming the liquid, are able to "store" more or less accurately with respect to each other depending for example on the temperature.

At this stage of their work (published in Physical Review Letters [1]), these researchers can already say that this phenomenon is associated with structuring the presence of a certain type of order in the liquid.

These observations in membranes of liquid crystals (LC), could open new perspectives in understanding some mechanisms present in biological membranes. Indeed, the liquid crystal membranes have strong structural similarities with those of living cells surrounded by fluid bilayers. But they have the enormous advantage that it can overcome the phenomena known as "active" own the living which facilitates the modeling of the observed phenomena.

Contacts and sources:
CRPP, Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal 

Citation: [1] Undulation Instabilities in smectic membranes of the Meniscus, JC Loudet, PV Dolganov, P. Patricio, H. Saadawi, and P. Cluzeau, Physical Review Letters 106, 117802 (2011)

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