Research Article

Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 41-48

First online:

Microscale Synthetic Schlieren

  • King-Yeung YickAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Email author 
  • , Roman StockerAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • , Thomas PeacockAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We develop the axisymmetric Synthetic Schlieren technique to study the wake of a microscale sphere settling through a density stratification. A video-microscope was used to magnify and image apparent displacements of a micron-sized random-dot pattern. Due to the nature of the wake, density gradient perturbations in the horizontal greatly exceed those in the vertical, requiring modification of previously developed axisymmetric techniques. We present results for 780 and 383 μm spheres, and describe the limiting role of noise in the system for a 157 μm sphere. This technique can be instrumental in understanding a range of ecological and environmental oceanic processes on the microscale.