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Deterministic and stochastic bifurcations in two-dimensional electroconvective flows

Abstract: We investigate deterministic and stochastic bifurcations in electroconvecitve flows of a dielectric liquid confined between two parallel plates subjected to a strong unipolar injection by direct numerical simulations. A long-standing discrepancy of linear instability criteria between the experiment and theory exists in this flow. We here test the hypothesis that the discrepancy may be related to the inhomogeneity in ion-exchange membranes used in experiments, contrasted by the homogeneous ion injection assumed in theoretical and numerical analyses. To study this effect, we consider stochastic boundary conditions around linear criticality and first bifurcations in this flow. For a complete presentation of flow bifurcations, deterministic bifurcation analysis (without stochasticity) is first performed to investigate primary bifurcations in this flow by progressively increasing the strength of electric field. Lyapunov spectrum and dimension are calculated and probed to characterise the chaotic motion therein. Our results confirm the high dimensionality of chaos in electroconvective flows and reveal for the first time that its chaos is extensive in a range of finite-sized systems. We then conduct stochastic bifurcation analyses by considering random perturbations in the boundary conditions of charge density and electric potential. Owing to the subcritical nature of electroconvective flows, the linear instability criteria under stochastic boundaries are closer to the experimental values than former theoretical and numerical results (assuming the homogeneous charge injection) for different levels of stochasticity, which confirms the hypothesis aforementioned. Furthermore, stochasticity can also enhance the efficiency of ionic transport.
Keywords: dielectrics / bifurcation

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