Critical onset of layering in sedimenting suspensions of nanoparticles

A. V. Butenko, P. M. Nanikashvili, D. Zitoun, E. Sloutskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We quantitatively study the critical onset of layering in suspensions of nanoparticles in a solvent, where an initially homogeneous suspension, subject to an effective gravity a in a centrifuge, spontaneously forms well-defined layers of constant particle density, so that the density changes in a staircaselike manner along the axis of gravity. This phenomenon is well known; yet, it has never been quantitatively studied under reproducible conditions: therefore, its physical mechanism remained controversial and the role of thermal diffusion in this phenomenon was never explored. We demonstrate that the number of layers forming in the sample exhibits a critical scaling as a function of a; a critical dependence on sample height and transverse temperature gradient is established as well. We reproduce our experiments by theoretical calculations, which attribute the layering to a diffusion-limited convective instability, fully elucidating the physical mechanism of layering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number188301
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 9 May 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Critical onset of layering in sedimenting suspensions of nanoparticles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this