Thermophoretic Levitation of Solid Particles at Atmospheric Pressure

Pritam Kumar Roy, Irina Legchenkova, Leonid A. Dombrovsky, Vladimir Yu Levashov, Alexei P. Kryukov, Bernard P. Binks, Nir Shvalb, Shraga Shoval, Viktor Valtsifer, Edward Bormashenko

Research output: Working paperPreprint

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Separation and transportation of small particles are important processes in various applications such as the food and pharmaceutical industries. Although mechanical, chemical or electrical methods can provide possible solutions, operational or environmental constraints may require alternative methods. Spreading and levitation of clusters (aggregates) of fumed silica nanoparticles placed under atmospheric pressure on a hot plate is reported. In a closed chamber, the particles started to spread horizontally at the threshold temperature of $T_c^*=403 \pm 1$K. The powder spreading in the chamber continued until the temperature-dependent saturation value $r_{sat} (T)$, which grew linearly with the temperature. Open space experiments clearly demonstrated levitation of the powder clouds. The onset of levitation in the open space corresponded to the minimal threshold temperature of $T_o^*=373 \pm 1$K. Qualitative physical analysis of the observed phenomena is suggested. The effect of levitation is explained by the lifting thermo-phoretic force emerging in the Knudsen layer of air on the heater surface. The levitation of the powder under atmospheric pressure becomes possible due to the combination of low adhesion of the fluorinated fumed silica clusters built of nanoparticles to the substrate, relatively low density of the particles and clusters, and their high specific surface area. Ordering of the aggregates of nanoparticles within the levitating powder cloud was quantified with Voronoi diagrams.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 5 Aug 2021


  • cond-mat.soft
  • physics.chem-ph
  • physics.class-ph


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