Critical phenomena in microgravity: Past, present, and future

M. Barmatz, Inseob Hahn, J. A. Lipa, R. V. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


This review provides an overview of the progress in using the low-gravity environment of space to explore critical phenomena and test modern theoretical predictions. Gravity-induced variations in the hydrostatic pressure and the resulting density gradients adversely affect ground-based measurements near fluid critical points. Performing measurements in a low-gravity environment can significantly reduce these difficulties. A number of significant experiments have been performed in low-Earth orbit. Experiments near the lambda transition in liquid helium explored the regime of large correlation lengths and tested the theoretical predictions to a level of precision that could not be obtained on Earth. Other studies have validated theoretical predictions for the divergence in the viscosity as well as the unexpected critical speeding up of the thermal equilibrium process in pure fluids near the liquid-gas critical point. We describe the scientific content of previously flown low-gravity investigations of critical phenomena as well as those in the development stage, and associated ground-based work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-52
Number of pages52
JournalReviews of Modern Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'Critical phenomena in microgravity: Past, present, and future'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this