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False-colour photograph capturing a snapshot of the particle-forming reaction between two gases. In the experiment, a jet of SiH4 gas is expelled into a flow of hot air, generating swirling clusters of SiO2 particles (microscopic sand), which grow in size and number as they travel downstream.

Hotter colours indicate regions where lots of particles are found and the dark blue colour represents areas of the flow where there are no paricles at all. The visualised field is generated using a sheet of laser light which enables us to investigate a single slice throught the turbulent jet.

Understanding the generation and behaviour of tiny particles in the air is crucial to understanding air pollution. Tiny particles can stay airbourne for up to 3-5 days, and have been linked to climate change and physiological damage. Such particles arise from a myriad of process, both man-made (e.g. diesel engines) and natural (e.g. forest fires).


Image is sold on behalf of providing scientist. Internal case number: 7936

Silicon dioxide formation

SiO2 particles forming from oxidation of SiH4 gas

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