Detlef Lohse

Germany / The Netherlands

2018 Balzan Prize for Fluid Dynamics

For his exceptional contributions in the most diverse fields of fluid dynamics, such as the transition to turbulent regimes in the Rayleigh-Bénard convection, the study of multi-phase turbulent flow, sonoluminescence, the properties of bubbles and drops down to a microscopic level, and micro and nano fluidics.

Doctor in Physics from the University of Marburg, Germany, Detlef Lohse was appointed in 1998, at the age of 34, Chair of Physics of Fluids at Twente University, the Netherlands.
The Rayleigh-Bénard convection, the buoyancy driven flow of a fluid heated from below and cooled from above, is a classical problem in fluid dynamics. This type of convection is of the utmost importance; it sets in motion the atmospheric winds and the ocean currents – determining the climate – as well as the Earth’s magma, influencing the Earth’s magnetic field. Rayleigh-Bénard convection is at work in countless industrial applications.
The theory by Detlef Lohse and Siegfried Grossmann, establishing the contribution of the bulk and of the boundary layers in the different turbulence regimes, is nowadays the most widely applied in the analysis of experimental data and in numerical simulations.
Two-phase flows (mix of liquid and gas) play a major role in the energy dissipation by ships’ skin drag as well as in the transport of liquefied gases. A state-of-the-art experimental set-up, conceived by Detlef Lohse and his team, to study bubbly Taylor-Couette turbulent flow, has recently begun operation, opening the path to fruitful quantitative research.
By his exceptional mastery of the physics of fluids, the quality of his laboratory experiments and numerical simulations, Lohse and his team have described quantitatively a number of phenomena defying understanding. He has definitively explained sonoluminescence, the emission of visible light by collapsing gaseous bubbles.
His research on the properties of bubbles and droplets at the microscopic level has led to the scientific quantitative description, e.g., of the response of contrast agents in heart ultrasound imaging, of the transport and projection of drops for inkjet printing or of the behavior at nanoscopic level of gases and fluids at the interface with solid matter.
In conclusion, by experimental studies in the laboratory, the extension of present theories, the development of new ones and the corresponding numerical simulations, the knowledge acquired thanks to Detlef Lohse and his team opens new avenues in the understanding of geophysical and meteorological phenomena and in important industrial and medical applications as well.
Thanks to his dynamism and creativity, he has motivated and trained numerous young scientists, now active in research and teaching at the highest level.

Physics of Fluids group, Faculty Science & Technology,

University of Twente