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Global scientific team reveals how water droplets line up to form fog, steam and clouds

June 02, 2017, 15:08 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A group of scientists has come closer to establishing a mathematical model of how water microdroplets organize themselves

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/. Russian scientists together with colleagues from the US and Israel have come closer to establishing a mathematical model of how water microdroplets organize themselves, the press service of Tyumen State University (TyumSU) said.

According to the scientists, the directed droplet clusters might serve as handy model unit for detailed studies of reactions in aerosol drops.

Moreover, by researching microdroplets, insight can be gained into the working principles of various pollutants in the Earth’s atmosphere and of different biological processes inside living cells.

The scientists’ work has been published in the online mega journal, Scientific Reports.

What are water microdroplets?

Suspended water microdroplets form fogs, clouds, and steam over a cup of hot tea. Normally, these droplets move in a chaotic way and do not form any organized structures, but in 2003, Russian scientists led by Tyumen State University research assistant Alexander Fedorets demonstrated that under certain conditions, microdroplets levitating over the surface of heated water can accumulate into so-called clusters - regular structures consisting of hexagons with separate droplets "hanging" in the apices.

The study’s results

"Previously, we had already undertaken a number of studies devoted to the droplet clusters," Fedorets told a TASS correspondent.

"We studied issues linked to the levitation of microdroplets, temperature fields defining such processes, and searched for ways to control these clusters. In our new study, for the first time we conducted a complex analysis of all basic physical processes accompanying the formation of stable droplet clusters and have laid the groundwork for a physical-mathematical model for such self-organization."

In that way, the scientists evaluated the Voronoi entropy, the value characterizing the degree of order for the system of microdroplets, and have shown that they become more organized as the cluster size increases.

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