Europhys. Lett.
Volume 67, Number 1, July 2004
Page(s) 42 - 48
Section Electromagnetism, optics, acoustics, heat transfer, classical mechanics, and fluid dynamics
Published online 01 June 2004
Europhys. Lett., 67 (1) , pp. 42-48 (2004)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-10279-7

Silica tubes in chemical gardens: Radius selection and its hydrodynamic origin

S. Thouvenel-Romans1, W. van Saarloos2 and O. Steinbock1

1  Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 32306-4390, USA
2  Instituut-Lorentz, Universiteit Leiden - Postbus 9506 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

(Received 17 October 2003; accepted in final form 3 May 2004)

Chemical gardens consist of hollow silica fibers that form from silicate solution upon seeding with salt crystals or injection of salt solution. We investigate the outer radius of these tubes for steady and oscillatory growth dynamics. The radius increases with increasing injection rates and concentrations of cupric sulfate seed solution. For steady growth, we find that the tube radii are described quantitatively by the Poiseuille-flow characteristics of the buoyant jet of injected solution. The oscillatory regime gives rise to wider tubes and involves the cyclic expansion and detachment of a membrane-bound droplet at the growth point. The droplets' expansion rate equals the applied injection rate indicating that, in this growth regime, the fluid flow is constrained to the interior of the silica structures.

47.54.+r - Pattern selection; pattern formation.
47.15.-x - Laminar flows.
82.40.Ck - Pattern formation in reactions with diffusion, flow and heat transfer.

© EDP Sciences 2004