Pressure fluctuations, viscosity, and Brownian motion

11 Jun 2020  ·  Munley Frank ·

Brownian motion occurs in a variety of fluids, from rare gases to liquids. The Langevin equation, describing friction and agitation forces in statistical balance, is one of the most successful ways to treat the phenomenon... In rare gases, it is appropriate to model both friction and agitation in terms of independent molecular impacts with the particle. But in relatively dense fluids, such as water and air at standard temperature and pressure, the mean free path between collisions of fluid molecules is much smaller than the size of the Brownian particle, and the friction is normally treated as a mesoscopic viscous effect described by Stokes' Law which treats the fluid as continuous. The appropriateness of using Stokes' Law will be discussed in terms of recent experimental research in the ballistic or "coasting" phase of motion occurring at a very short time scale. Given the mesoscopic nature of the friction force for relatively dense fluids, we should expect the agitation force to also be mesoscopic. But it is often unrealistically modeled as uncorrelated individual impacts. It has been suggested occasionally that mesoscopic pressure fluctuations are appropriate for denser fluids. The purpose of this paper is to model friction as a result of mesoscopic pressure fluctuations. First, the simple random walk will be used to approximate the time and space scales below which ballistic motion begins and diffusive motion ends. Following that, pressure fluctuations and the associated time scale will be introduced to explain Brownian motion. As successful as the pressure fluctuation model is for many fluids, it will be shown to fail for fluids like glycerin that have viscosities a thousand times and more that of water. read more

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Statistical Mechanics