Colloquium 11/14/2011

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S. Dietrich

Max Planck Institut für Intelligente Systeme, Germany, and Institut für Theoretische und Angewandte Physik, Universität Stuttgart, Germany

Critical Casimir Forces

Long-ranged correlations in a fluid near its critical point lead to clearly identifiable effective forces acting on confining walls. The corresponding universal scaling functions are discussed for different boundary conditions and geometries. The theoretical predictions are compared with high precision experimental data for He4 and He3/He4 wetting films near the superfluid phase transition as well as with synchrotron scattering data from classical binary liquid mixtures. Direct measurements and applications for colloidal suspensions are discussed.