Applied Math Colloquium
Hydrodynamic fluctuations in quasi-two dimensional diffusion
We study diffusion of colloids on a fluid-fluid interface using particle simulations and fluctuating hydrodynamics. Diffusion on a two-dimensional interface with three-dimensional hydrodynamics is known to be anomalous, with the collective diffusion coefficient diverging like the inverse of the wavenumber. This unusual collective effect arises because of the compressibility of the fluid flow in the plane of the interface, and leads to a nonlinear nonlocal convolution term in the diffusion equation for the ensemble-averaged concentration. We study the magnitude and dynamics of density and color density fluctuations using a novel Brownian dynamics algorithm, as well as fluctuating hydrodynamics theory and simulation. We also examine nonequilibrium fluctuations in systems with two-dimensional hydrodynamics, such as thin smectic films in vacuum. We find that nonequilibrium fluctuations are colossal and comparable in magnitude to the mean, and can be accurately modeled using numerical solvers for the nonlinear equations of fluctuating hydrodynamics.