Date of Award

Spring 3-24-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Noel A. Clark

Second Advisor

Joseph Maclennan

Third Advisor

Matthew Glaser


Hydrodynamic interaction of pairs of circular inclusions in two-dimensional (2D), fluid smectic membranes suspended in air has been studied systematically. By analyzing their Brownian motion, it is found that the radial mutual mobilities of identical inclusions are independent of their size but that the angular coupling becomes strongly size-dependent when their radius exceeds a characteristic hydrodynamic length. These observations are described well for arbitrary inclusion separations by a model that generalizes the Levine/MacKintosh theory of point-force response functions and uses a boundary-element approach to calculate the mobility matrix for inclusions of finite extent. Beyond that, 2D flow fields generated by a rigid, oscillating post inserted in the film have been measured by analyzing the motion of tracer particles and provide a detailed understanding of the hydrodynamic behavior in the film/gas system. The Brownian diffusion of micron-scale inclusions in freely suspended smectic A liquid crystal films a few nanometers thick and several millimeters in diameter depends strongly on the air surrounding the film. Near atmospheric pressure, the three-dimensionally coupled _lm/gas system is well described by Hughes/Pailthorpe/White hydrodynamic theory but at lower pressure, the diffusion coefficient increases substantially, tending in high vacuum toward the two-dimensional limit where it is determined by film size. In the absence of air, the films are found to be a nearly ideal physical realization of a two-dimensional, incompressible Newtonian fluid.

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