Mini Saturns created from charged liquid droplets

Jul 11, 2017 15:33 IST

Scientists have created miniature versions of the ringed planet Saturn. The miniature version was created by electrifying tiny drops of fluid.

Researchers said that this creation of the ringed Saturn would help scientists to create new ways of generating microscopic and uniform particles and capsules often used in products such as drugs, inks, cosmetics, paints and ceramics. They said that the created planet has more than aesthetic value.

How does it work?

On being exposed to an electric field, a drop of electrically conducive liquid responds by forming two electrically charged poles.

Previous research has shown that these poles can get pulled toward the sources of the electric field, taking on cone shapes. If the pull is strong enough, the tips of the cones can spray jets of droplets. When an electric field is applied to a drop of silicone oil suspended in castor oil, the drop can flatten and emit rings of droplets from its equator. Experiments regarding this effect, known as electrospraying, often involved drops of liquid surrounded by less electrically conductive fluids.

In the new study, researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois wanted to explore what happens when drops of liquid are submerged in more electrically conductive fluids, specifically, drops of silicone oil suspended in castor oil.

The experiment reveals that if an electric field is strong enough then the equators of these squashed drops emit concentric rings of droplets, making the drops look like miniature versions of Saturn. Petia Vlahovska from Northwestern University told to 'Live Science' that in experiments, drops of silicone oil about 1 millimetre wide generated droplets that were about 100 times smaller.

Vlahovska noted they could generate rings in a very controllable way.

She said that the future research will explore what materials can be used to produce this “ring of particles” effect.

As the broader is the range of materials, the wider the application will be.

Live Science says that Vlahovska and her co-author Quentin Brosseau at New York University are scheduled to detail their findings online July 20 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

(With Support of PTI inputs)

Is this article important for exams ? Yes

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