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Dispersion of active particles in confined unidirectional flows

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 August 2019

Weiquan Jiang
Laboratory of Systems Ecology and Sustainability Science, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
Guoqian Chen*
Laboratory of Systems Ecology and Sustainability Science, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
Email address for correspondence:


Transport of micro-organisms in confined flows can be characterized by a one-dimensional overall dispersion mechanism, of importance to various biotechnological applications. Based on Brenner’s generalized Taylor dispersion theory, an overall dispersion model is analytically studied in the present work for a dilute suspension of active particles in confined unidirectional flows. With the confined section of the channel and the swimming orientation space taken together as the local space and the longitudinal coordinate standing for the one-dimensional global space, this model is analytically accurate and possessed of wide adaptability in terms of the swimming Péclet number. The Robin boundary condition is introduced to account for wall accumulation of active particles, and compared with a typical reflection boundary condition. Complications associated with the boundary conditions for analytical derivation are removed respectively by a decomposition of the distribution function and an extension of the flow field. Interesting solutions are concretely found and intensively illustrated. Detailed case studies on the transport of spherical and rod-like particles to illustrate the dispersion mechanism are presented with respect to a Couette flow and a plane Poiseuille flow. Associated with the local distribution of particles, extensive descriptions are given for the dynamical system behaviours such as accumulation near both stable points/lines and boundaries, symmetric polarization structure, closed orbits, trapping effect, nematic alignments and bimodalization of swimming direction. For spherical particles, the accumulation is shown leading to a reduction of the overall dispersivity in both of the flows, while for rod-like active particles in the Couette flow, the accumulation can result in an enhancement of dispersion, due to the nematic alignments of particles towards streamlines.

JFM Papers
© 2019 Cambridge University Press 

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