Voth Receives NSF Grant for Rod Dynamics Research

Greg Voth, associate professor of physics, received a grant worth $300,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Material Research division to support his study on “Rod Dynamics in Turbulence: Simultaneous 3D measurements of Anisotropic Particles and Velocity Fields” through May 31, 2015.

In a wide range of natural and industrial situations, turbulent flows carry particulate material. For example, clouds are turbulent flows containing water droplets and ice crystals. Papermaking uses turbulent suspensions of fibers. If the particles are spheres, there are a variety of tools available for measuring their motion. But usually the particles are not spheres, and the movement and rotations of non-spherical particles have never before been measured as they are carried by a turbulent flow. Voth’s project will develop experimental tools to make these measurements. Particle rotations are of particular interest because their statistics are expected to be similar in all turbulent flows, and measurements can be compared with theoretical predictions for the universal properties of turbulence. This work seeks to establish a clear understanding of the fundamental characteristics of non-spherical particle motion in laboratory turbulent flows that can be used to understand more complex applications such as icy clouds and papermaking. Education and research training are central to this project, which will support the mentoring of undergraduates, graduate students, and a postdoctoral scientist, as well as training K-12 educators in physical science.