Double Diffusive Flow

Diffusion is the tendency for differences in a fluid — in density, temperature, or concentration — to even out over time. Think about a drop of food coloring in a glass of water. Even without stirring, that dye will eventually disperse throughout the glass through diffusion. But when there is more than one factor controlling diffusion — like temperature and salinity — things get more complicated. In the ocean, for example, this double-diffusion causes salt fingers like those shown in the first image.

But what happens when the two diffusing fluid layers are flowing? That’s the question at the heart of this video, which explores the intricate mixing that takes place between doubly-diffusing liquids in a channel. (Video and image credit: A. Mizev et al.)

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