Physicists discover temperature key to avalanche movement
100 years after Einsteins landmark work on Brownian motion, physicists have discovered a new concept of temperature that could be the key to explaining how ice and snow particles flow during an avalanche, and could lead to a better way of handling tablets in the pharmaceutical industry. This research is reported today in a special Einstein Year issue of the New Journal of Physics published jointly by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft).
Everything from powdery snow to desert sands, from salt to corn flakes are granular materials. Physicists have known for many years that granular materials have many perplexing properties that make them behave at times liquid solids, liquids, and even gases. This new research reveals for the first time how to measure a concept called "granular temperature" – that could be the key to explaining how they behave.
"Take the solid snow covering a ski slope, for instance", suggests lead author of the paper Patrick Mayor of the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. "While it stays still it is a solid, but as soon as it starts flowing downhill as happens during an avalanche the flowing material is behaving more like a liquid. Similarly, during a desert storm, sand grains are whipped up and behave like molecules in a gas, rather than as a solid".
"Whereas most materials are usually described as solid, liquid or gases, granular systems do not seem to fall into any of these categories and are often considered a separate state of matter of their own," says Mayor, "The diverse behaviour of granular materials makes it extremely difficult to establish a general theory that accounts for the observed phenomena."
Mayor and his colleagues, Gianfranco DAnna, Alain Barrat, Vittorio Loreto, have shown that shaken granular matter behaves in a way related to Einsteins theory of Brownian motion, first published in 1905.
The temperature of an object reflects the random motion of its constituent parts. For instance, the faster the molecules in a gas or liquid are moving around the higher the temperature of the material.
Temperature also measures the degree of agitation of molecules in a liquid or a gas. Mayor and his colleagues have now devised a thermometer that can measure the temperature of a granular material based on the degree of agitation of its component particles. The researchers also discovered that, unlike usual liquids, temperature varies depending on which way and how far they insert the "thermometer" into the granular material.
Being able to measure "temperature" might allow researchers to better understand the peculiar properties of a granular material, which is of crucial importance to industries that handle powders and particulate materials from pharmaceutical pills and food powders to sand and cement in the construction industry.
David Reid | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...