, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 3-12

Shock waves at microscales

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We present a model for the effects of scale, via molecular diffusion phenomena, on the generation and propagation of shock waves. A simple parametrization of the shear stresses and heat flux at the wall leads to the determination of new jump conditions, which show that, for a given wave Mach number at small scales, the resulting particle velocities are lower but the pressures are higher. Also, the model predicts that the flow at small scale is isothermal and that the minimum wave velocity can be subsonic. Experiments with a miniature shock tube using low pressures to simulate the effects of small scale have shown qualitative agreement with the proposed model. In fact, the effects of scale appear even more important than what has been incorporated in the model.