Sedimentation of a colloidal monolayer down an inclined plane

Brennan Sprinkle, Sam Wilken, Shake Karapetyan, Michio Tanaka, Zhe Chen, Joseph R. Cruise, Blaise Delmotte, Michelle M. Driscoll, Paul Chaikin, Aleksandar Donev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the driven collective dynamics of a colloidal monolayer sedimenting down an inclined plane. The action of the gravity force parallel to the bottom wall creates a flow around each colloid, and the hydrodynamic interactions among the colloids accelerate the sedimentation as the local density increases. This leads to the creation of a universal "triangular"inhomogeneous density profile, with a traveling density shock at the leading front moving in the downhill direction. Unlike density shocks in a colloidal monolayer driven by applied torques rather than forces [Phys. Rev. Fluids 2, 092301(R) (2017)2469-990X10.1103/PhysRevFluids.2.092301], the density front during sedimentation remains stable over long periods of time even though it develops a roughness on the order of tens of particle diameters. Through experimental measurements and particle-based computer simulations, we find that the Burgers equation can model the density profile along the sedimentation direction as a function of time remarkably well, with a modest improvement if the nonlinear conservation law accounts for the sublinear dependence of the collective sedimentation velocity on density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034202
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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