Sedimentation describes the motion of molecules in solutions or particles in suspensions in response to an external force such as gravity, centrifugal force or electric force. Sedimentation may pertain to objects of various sizes, ranging from suspensions of dust and pollen particles to cellular suspensions to solutions of single molecules such as proteins and peptides. Even small molecules such as aspirin can be sedimented, although it can be difficult to apply a sufficiently strong force to produce significant sedimentation.

In a sedimentation experiment, the applied force accelerates the particles to a terminal velocity v_{term} at which the applied force is exactly canceled by an opposing drag force. For small enough particles (low Reynolds number), the drag force varies linearly with the terminal velocity, i.e., F_{drag} = f v_{term} (Stokes flow) where "f" depends only on the properties of the particle and the surrounding fluid. Similarly, the applied force generally varies linearly with some coupling constant (denoted here as "q") that depends only on the properties of the particle, F_{app} = q E_{app}. Hence, it is generally possible to define a sedimentation coefficient s stackrel{mathrm{def{=} q/f that depends only on the properties of the particle and the surrounding fluid. Thus, measuring "s" can reveal underlying properties of the particle.

In many cases, the motion of the particles is blocked by a hard boundary; the resulting accumulation of particles at the boundary is called a sediment. The concentration of particles at the boundary is opposed by the diffusion of the particles.

The sedimentation of particles under gravity is described by the Mason-Weaver equation, which has a simple exact solution. The sedimentation coefficient "s" in this case equals m_{b}/f, where m_{b} is the buoyant mass.

The sedimentation of particles under the centrifugal force is described by the Lamm equation, which likewise has an exact solution. The sedimentation coefficient "s" also equals m_{b}/f, where m_{b} is the buoyant mass. However, the Lamm equation differs from the Mason-Weaver equation because the centrifugal force depends on radius from the origin of rotation, whereas gravity is presumed constant. The Lamm equation also has extra terms, since it pertains to sector-shaped cells, whereas the Mason-Weaver equation pertains to box-shaped cells (i.e., cells whose walls are aligned with the three Cartesian axes).

Particles with a charge or dipole moment can be sedimented by an electric field or electric field gradient, respectively. These processes are called electrophoresis and dielectrophoresis, respectively. For electrophoresis, the sedimentation coefficient corresponds to the particle charge divided by its drag (the electrophoretic mobility). Similarly, for dielectrophoresis, the sedimentation coefficient equals the particle's electric dipole moment divided by its drag.

ee also

*Coagulation (disambiguation)

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  • sédimentation — [ sedimɑ̃tasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1861; de sédiment 1 ♦ Méd. Formation de sédiment. Sédimentation sanguine : dépôt des globules rouges du sang rendu incoagulable, au fond du tube où il est laissé en repos. Vitesse de sédimentation, dont la détermination… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sedimentation — Sédimentation La sédimentation est l ensemble des processus par lesquels les particules physiques (organiques ou minérales) en suspension et en transit cessent de se déplacer et se déposent, devenant ainsi des sédiments. La sédimentation est… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sedimentation — Sed i*men*ta tion, n. The act of depositing a sediment; specifically (Geol.), the deposition of the material of which sedimentary rocks are formed. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sedimentation — (n.) 1845, from SEDIMENT (Cf. sediment) + ATION (Cf. ation) …   Etymology dictionary

  • sedimentation — [sed΄ə men tā′shən, sed΄əməntā′shən] n. the depositing or formation of sediment …   English World dictionary

  • Sedimentation — Von schweren Sandstürmen im Dust Bowl zugewehtes Anwesen in South Dakota (USA) 1936 Sedimentierung bzw. Sedimentation (von lat. sedimentum „Bodensatz“) ist das Ablagern/Absetzen von Teilchen aus Flüssigkeiten oder Gasen unter dem Einfluss der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • sedimentation — /sed euh meuhn tay sheuhn/, n. the deposition or accumulation of sediment. [1870 75; SEDIMENT + ATION] * * * In geology, the process of deposition of a solid material from a state of suspension or solution in a fluid (usually air or water).… …   Universalium

  • Sédimentation — Une sédimentation est un processus dans lequel des particules de matière quelconque cessent progressivement de se déplacer et se réunissent en couches. Les facteurs induisant la sédimentation peuvent être variés en nombre et en proportion.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sedimentation — Sedimentbildung; Ablagerung; Sedimentierung * * * Se|di|men|ta|ti|on 〈f. 20; Geol.〉 1. Sedimentbildung, Ablagerung fester Stoffe 2. Bodensatzbildung; →a. Lithogenese * * * Se|di|men|ta|ti|on; Syn.: Absetzen, Ablagerung: Bez. für das unter dem… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Sedimentation — nusėdimas statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. sedimentation; settling; settling down vok. Absetzen, n; Sedimentation, f rus. оседание, n pranc. sédimentation, f …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

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