Dispersion of Molecular Patterns Written in Turbulent Air

Willem Van De Water*, Nico Dam, Enrico Calzavarini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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We study the dispersion of tiny molecular clouds in turbulence by writing patterns in turbulent air and following their deformation in time. The writing is done by fusing O2 and N2 molecules into NO in the focus of a strong ultraviolet laser beam. By crossing several of these laser beams, patterns that have both small and large scales can be painted. The patterns are visualized a while later by inducing fluorescence of the NO molecules with a second UV laser and registering the image. The width of the lines that make the pattern is approximately 50 μm, a few times the Kolmogorov length η, the smallest length scale in turbulence, while the overall size of the patterns (≈4 mm) is inside the inertial range of the used turbulent jet flow. At small scales molecular clouds disperse under the joint action of molecular diffusion and turbulence. The experiments reveal for the first time this subtle, yet very important interaction. At macroscales (≈200 η) we verify the Batchelor dispersion of objects whose size is inside the inertial range; however, the expected influence of molecular diffusion is smaller than the accuracy of the experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number254501
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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