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Electrohydrodynamics at Zero Gravity


Mechanical Engineering Doctoral Students Nik Markarian (floating) and Mike Yeksel (behind the NJIT sign) take a break from their research project aboard a NASA KC-135 low-gravity research aircraft at NASA Glenn Research Center.

A research project conducted aboard a NASA low-gravity research vehicle is providing new information for NJIT's electrohydrodynamics research group. The research team, which included Boris Khusid, associate professor of mechanical engineering, his two doctoral students, Nik Markarian and Mike Yeksel, and partners from CCNY and NASA, successfully conducted experiments on electrohydrodynamics at "zero" gravity. The experiments took place aboard a NASA KC-135 low gravity research aircraft at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. The KC-135 is used to fly parabolas to create 20-25 seconds of weightlessness, so that researchers can investigate the effects of zero gravity.

The experiments, which took two years to set up, recorded the kinetics of the field-induced dielectrophoresis and segregation of heavy particles and bubbles, which cannot be done in ground-based experiments due to gravity. The team found a difference in behavior of suspensions subject to a zero-average gravity force, positive dielectrophoresis and heterogeneous aggregation in high-gradient AC electric fields, and an instantaneous zero-gravity force.