Soft Matter Physics
LS Maret

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Granular materials are inherent non-equilibrium materials and hence are model systems for the study of systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium. This gives rise to counterintuitive phenomena such as size-separation of binary mixtures or clustering transitions leading to compartmentalization of an initially well mixed collection of grains. We investigate the influence of gravitation on these phenomena by levitating the samples in a strong magnetic field gradient. In the dynamics of foams, the coarsening and coalescence of bubbles is usually strongly influenced by the drainage of the fluid through between the lipid membranes due to gravity. By levitating the foams it is again possible to study the intrinsic equilibration dynamics solely due to surface tension and external pressure.