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Molecular tagging velocimetry

Molecular Tagging Velocimetry (MTV) is a specific form of velocimetry. In its simplest form, a single "write" laser beam is shot once through the sample space. Along its path an optically induced chemical process is initiated, resulting in the creation of a new chemical species or in changing the internal energy state of an existing one.  

This line of tagged molecules is now transported by the fluid flow. To obtain velocity information, images at two instances in time are obtained and correlated to determine the displacement. If the flow is three-dimensional or turbulent the line will not only be displaced, it will also be deformed.



There are three optical ways via which these tagged molecules can be visualized: fluorescence, phosphorescence and laser induced fluorescence (LIF). In all three cases molecules relax to a lower state and their excess energy is released as photons. In fluorescence this energy decay occurs rapidly (within 10 − 7 s to 10 − 9 s at atmospheric pressure), thus making "direct" fluorescence impractical for tagging. In phosphorescence the decay is slower, because the transition is quantum-mechanically forbidden.

In some "writing" schemes, the tagged molecule ends up in an excited state. If the molecule relaxes through phosphorescence, lasting long enough to see line displacement, this can be used to track the written line and no additional visualisation step is needed. If during tagging the molecule did not reach a phosphorescing state, or relaxed before the molecule was "read", a second step is needed. The tagged molecule is then excited using a second laser beam, employing a wavelength such that it specifically excites the tagged molecule. The molecule will fluoresce and this fluorescence is captured by means of a camera. This manner of visualisation is called Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF).

Optical techniques are frequently used in modern fluid velocimetry but most are opto-mechanical in nature. Opto-mechanical techniques do not rely on photonics alone for flow measurements but require macro-size seeding. The best known and often used examples are Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and Laser Doppler Velocimetry (LDV). Within the field of all-optical techniques we can distinguish analogous techniques but using molecular tracers. In Doppler schemes, light quasi-elastically scatters off molecules and the velocity of the molecules convey a Doppler shift to the frequency of the scattered light. In molecular tagging techniques, like in PIV, velocimetry is based on visualizing the tracer displacements.

MTV schemes

MTV techniques have proven to allow measurements of velocities in inhospitable environments, like jet engines, flames, high pressure vessels, where it is difficult for techniques like Pitot, hotwire velocimetry and PIV to work. The field of MTV is fairly young; the first demonstration of implementation emerged within the 1980's and the number of schemes developed and investigated for use in air is still fairly small. These schemes differ in the molecule that is created, whether seeding the flow with foreign molecules is necessary and what wavelength of light are being used.

The most thorough fluid mechanics studies have been performed using the RELIEF scheme and the APART scheme. Both techniques can be used in ambient air without the need of additional seeding. In RELIEF, excited oxygen is used as tracer. The method takes advantage of quantum mechanical properties that prohibit relaxation of the molecule, so that the excited oxygen has a relatively long lifetime.

APART is based on the "photosynthesis" of nitric oxide. Since NO is a stable molecule, patterns written with it can, in principle, be followed almost indefinitely.

Another technique that holds promise for the future is Hydroxyl tagging velocimetry (HTV). It is based on photo-dissociation of water vapor followed by visualisation of the resulting OH radical using LIF.

See also


  • Elenbaas, Thijs (2005). Writing lines in turbulent air using Air Photolysis and Recombination Tracking. Eindhoven: Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. ISBN 90-386-2401-8. 
  • R.B. Miles, J. Grinstead, R.H. Kohl, and G. Diskin (2000). "The RELIEF flow tagging technique and its application in engine testing facilities and for helium–air mixing studies". Measurement Science and Technology 11: 1272–1281.
  • L.A. Ribarov, J.A. Wehrmeyr, R.W. Pitz, and R.A. Yetter (2002). "Hydroxyl tagging velocimetry (HTV) in experimental air flows". Applied Physics B 74: 175–183.
  • C.P. Gendrich, M.M. Koochesfahani, and D.G. Nocera (1997). "Molecular tagging velocimetry and other novel applications of a new phosphorescent supramolecule". Experiments in Fluids 23: 361–372.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Molecular_tagging_velocimetry". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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