J. Phys. II France
Volume 5, Numéro 7, July 1995
Page(s) 1067 - 1076
DOI: 10.1051/jp2:1995230
J. Phys. II France 5 (1995) 1067-1076

Rayleigh-Taylor Instability in a Phase Separating Mixture under a Concentration Gradient

Y. Jayalakshmi and D. Beysens

Service de Physique de l'Etat Condensé du Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Centre d'Etudes de Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France

(Received 25 November 1994, accepted 6 April 1995)

In order to investigate the onset of flows induced by gravity during phase separation of fluids, the behavior of a density-matched liquid mixture is studied after a temperature quench. Phase transition is investigated in the presence of a weak linear concentration (and thus, density) gradient. We observe a "fast" growth zone for critical and near critical concentrations where phase separation proceeds by coalescence of interconnected domains. A "slow" growth zone surrounds the fast growth zone for off-critical concentrations where phase separation occurs through coalescence of spherical droplets. We observe at late times the development of a pattern of convective rolls, due to a Rayleigh-taylor instability between the fast and slow zones. The rate of evolution of the instability is several orders of magnitude lower than expected. This is because when the flows develop, the adjacent phases are likely to have a density difference much smaller than that expected between the coexisting phases at equilibrium.

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