Piece description from the artist
Flow birefringence happens when a fluid's symmetry is broken in a flow. At rest, the fluid is more or less the same in every direction (completely disordered = completely symmetric at scales greater than a few molecular nearest neighbors' distances). If the fluid is complex or structured, then there are long molecules dissolved in the fluid, or chains of electrostatically linked particles, or other soft stuff components inside the fluid. This soft stuff can align and stretch in response to flow. When this happens, the fluid is no longer symmetric and no longer optically identical in all directions. In cross polarized light, stripes of color – flow birefringence and form birefringence will appear. this phenomena is useful in analyzing flows and stresses on complex fluids in different flow geometries. As art, "Flow Birefringence" is not a precise representation of flow data. It is rather more allegorical, with chains of shapes alluding to the process of flow induced alignment and stretching, and rough stripes of color referring back to the optical properties of the fluid.
Dr. Regina Valluzzi has an extensive scientific background in nanotechnology and biophysics. She has been a scientist in the chemical industry, a green chemistry researcher, a research professor at the engineering school at Tufts, a start-up founder engaged in technology commercialization, and a start-up and commercialization consultant.
Even during periods of intense activity as a scientist, Dr. Valluzzi has always held a strong interest in the visual arts and in visual information. While she majored in Materials Science at MIT, she also obtained a second degree in music and a minor in visual studies. Visual arts have managed to permeate her technical work; during her Ph.D in Polymer Science and Engineering at UMass Amherst, she completed a thesis that required advanced electron microscopy, image analysis, and theoretical data modeling. These experiences provided the visual insight and information that now influences much of her artwork.
Dr. Valluzzi’s work has been included in private collections across the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Dubai and Malta, and in the corporate collection of "Seyfarth Shaw" Boston law offices around Boston. She has a selection of pieces on loan to the MIT Materials Science and Engineering Department as indoor public art. Her accomplishments include having published thirty articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, having made several scientific patents, having been a subject matter expert for an encyclopedia chapter, and having been invited to speak at science talks across the US, Europe, and Japan.
Her newsletter is a good source of ongoing information: http://eepurl.com/daiLQ
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