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Phase transition oscillations induced by a strongly focused laser beam


We report here the observation of a surprising phenomenon consisting in a oscillating phase transition which appears in a binary mixture, PMMA/3-octanone, when this is enlightened by a strongly focused infrared laser beam. PMMA/3-octanone has a UCST (Upper Critical Solution Temperature) which presents a critical point at temperature Tc = 306.6 K and volume fraction φc = 12.8 % [Crauste et al., ArXiv 1310.6720, 2012]. This oscillatory phenomenon appears because of thermophoretic and electrostriction effects and non-linear diffusion. We analyze these oscillations and we propose a simple model which includes the minimal ingredients to produce the oscillatory behavior. Phase transitions in binary mixtures are still a widely studied subject, specifically near the critical point where several interesting and not completely understood phenomena may appear, among them we recall the critical Casimir forces [2],[3], confinement effects [4], [5] and out-of-equilibrium dynamics after a quench. The perturbation of the binary mixtures by mean of external fields is also an important and recent field of investigation [6]. For example, a laser can induce interesting phenomena in demixing binary mixtures because the radiation pressure can deform the interface between the two phases and it can be used to measure the interface tension [7]. Depending on the nature of the binary mixtures, laser illumination can also lead to a mixing or demixing transition. In ref.[8], focused infrared laser light heats the medium initially in the homogeneous phase and causes a separation in the LCST (Low Critical Solution Temperature) system. The radiation pressure gradients in a laser beam also contribute in the aggregation of polymers , thus producing a phase transition. The local heating may induce thermophoretic forces which attract towards the laser beam one of the binary-mixture components [9]. Other forces like electrostriction can also be involved [10]. In this letter, we report a new phenomenon, which consists in an oscillating phase transition induced by a constant illumination from an infrared laser beam in the heterogeneous region of an UCST (Upper Critical Solution Temperature) binary mixture. Oscillation phenomena in phase transition have already been reported in slow cooling UCST [11],[12] but as far as we know, never induced by a stationary laser illumination. After describing our experimental setup , we will present the results. Then we will use a very simplified model which contains the main necessary physical ingredients to induce this oscillation phenomenon.
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ensl-01128663 , version 1 (10-03-2015)



Clémence Devailly, Caroline Crauste-Thibierge, Artyom Petrosyan, Sergio Ciliberto. Phase transition oscillations induced by a strongly focused laser beam. 2015. ⟨ensl-01128663⟩
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