Nonequilibrium fluctuations during diffusion in liquid layers
AbstractTheoretical analysis and experiments have provided compelling evidence of the presence of long-range nonequilibrium concentration fluctuations during diffusion processes in fluids. In this paper, we investigate the dependence of the features of the fluctuations from the dimensionality of the system. In three-dimensional fluids the amplitude of nonequilibrium fluctuations can become several orders of magnitude larger than that of equilibrium fluctuations. Notwithstanding that, the amplitude of nonequilibrium fluctuations remains small with respect to the concentration difference driving the diffusion process. By extending the theory to two-dimensional systems, such as liquid monolayers and bilayers, we show that the amplitude of the fluctuations becomes much stronger than in three-dimensional systems. We investigate the properties of the fronts of diffusion and show that they have a self-affine structure characterized by a Hurst exponent H=1. We discuss the implications of these results for diffusion in liquid crystals and in cellular membranes of living organisms.