Staining Patterns

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This timelapse video shows a particulate suspension as it dries and the pattern formation that results. The mixture of silicon dioxide particles and water is spread over a glass slide. As the water evaporates, capillary action generates a flow toward the edges, but the fluid meniscus pins larger particles to the glass, trapping them. As more and more water evaporates, smaller particles are trapped, causing the formation of uneven stripes in the particulate deposits. You’ve probably seen these patterns before on the side of a muddy car after a rainy day! (See also: how coffee rings form; Video credit: Bjornar Sandnes)

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