The Rayleigh-Taylor instability develops when fluids are accelerated counter to their density gradients; intense interfacial fluid mixing ensues with time. The Rayleigh-Taylor mixing controls a broad range of processes in fluids, plasmas, materials, at astrophysical and at atomic scales. In this perspective paper we briefly review theoretical and experimental approaches, and apply theory and experiment to investigate order and disorder in Rayleigh-Taylor flows. The theory finds that properties of heterogeneous anisotropic accelerated Rayleigh-Taylor mixing depart from those of homogeneous isotropic inertial turbulence, including strong correlations, weak fluctuations, and sensitivity to deterministic conditions. The experiment unambiguously observes the heterogeneity and anisotropy of Rayleigh-Taylor mixing at very high Reynolds numbers, and the stabilizing effects of acceleration and accelerated shear on the interfacial dynamics. The theory and the experiment agree with one another and evince that Rayleigh- Taylor mixing may exhibit order and laminarize, similarly to other accelerated flows, thus opening new perspectives for research of complex processes in nature and technology.
|Publication status||Published - 2019|