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Issue 23, 2018
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Maximum in density heterogeneities of active swimmers

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Abstract

Suspensions of unicellular microswimmers such as flagellated bacteria or motile algae can exhibit spontaneous density heterogeneities at large enough concentrations. We introduce a novel model for biological microswimmers that creates the flow field of the corresponding microswimmers, and takes into account the shape anisotropy of the swimmer's body and stroke-averaged flagella. By employing multiparticle collision dynamics, we directly couple the swimmer's dynamics to the fluid's. We characterize the nonequilibrium phase diagram, as the filling fraction and Péclet number are varied, and find density heterogeneities in the distribution of both pullers and pushers, due to hydrodynamic instabilities. We find a maximum degree of clustering at intermediate filling fractions and at large Péclet numbers resulting from a competition of hydrodynamic and steric interactions between the swimmers. We develop an analytical theory that supports these results. This maximum might represent an optimum for the microorganisms' colonization of their environment.

Graphical abstract: Maximum in density heterogeneities of active swimmers

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Nov 2017, accepted on 15 Apr 2018 and first published on 01 May 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM02301D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018,14, 4666-4678
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Maximum in density heterogeneities of active swimmers

    F. J. Schwarzendahl and M. G. Mazza, Soft Matter, 2018, 14, 4666
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM02301D

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