Phenomena

Seeing Through

Beads become transparent when immersed in a liquid with a matching index of refraction.

Often researchers are interested in flows around and between objects, but seeing those flows is a challenge in a crowded field of view. One useful trick for this problem is matching the refractive index of your objects and the fluid they’re immersed in. Here we see the glass beads in a container seemingly disappear when a mixture of water and ammonium thiocyanate is poured in. Now the researchers can use many different visual diagnostic techniques to observe the interior flow! (Image credit: Datta Lab, Princeton University, source)

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