Particle segregation in suspensions subject to high-gradient ac electric fields

Anne D. Dussaud, Boris Khusid, Andreas Acrivos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


An experimental and theoretical study is described dealing with the dielectrophoretic motion of individual particles in a static as well as in a flowing suspension subject to high-gradient ac electric fields. The experiments were performed on very dilute suspensions of neutrally buoyant hollow ceramic spheres in a specially designed device in which the electric-field lines and the dielectrophoretic force were along the plane perpendicular to the streamlines of the main flow. Upon application of a high-gradient field (∼several kV/mm) to a quiescent suspension, the particles were found to move away from the electrodes and then to concentrate above the grounded electrodes, forming a distinct boundary between the clean fluid and the remaining suspension. This same field, when applied to a flowing suspension, caused the particles to concentrate within thin stripes parallel to the flow above the grounded electrodes and to travel with the suspending fluid within these stripes. The theoretical model for the particle motion included only the dielectrophoretic force and the viscous drag, and required no fitting parameters because the particle polarizability was calculated independently by measuring the concentration dependence of the complex permittivity of the suspension in a spatially uniform electric field of low strength (∼several V/mm). The computed particle motions and pattern formations were found to be in a good agreement with the experimental data. These results demonstrate that the expression for the dielectrophoretic force which employs the value of the particle polarization measured in fields of low strength can be used for describing the particle motions in fields of high strength. This approach enables one to model a broad range of eiectro-hydrodynamic phenomena in suspensions irrespective of whether or not they are perfectly insulating or perfectly conducting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5463-5473
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Particle segregation in suspensions subject to high-gradient ac electric fields'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this