Confinement without boundaries: anisotropic diffusion on the surface of a cylinder†
Densely packed systems of thermal particles in curved geometries are frequently encountered in biological and microfluidic systems. In 2D systems, at sufficiently high surface coverage, diffusive motion is widely known to be strongly affected by physical confinement, e.g., by the walls. In this work, we explore the effects of confinement by shape, not rigid boundaries, on the diffusion of discs by confining them to the surface of a cylinder. We find that both the magnitude and the directionality of lateral diffusion is strongly influenced by the radius of the cylinder. An anisotropy between diffusion in the longitudinal and circumferential direction of the cylinder develops. We demonstrate that the origin of this effect lies in the fact that screw-like packings of mono- and oligodisperse discs on the surface of a cylinder induce preferential collective motions in the circumferential direction, but also show that even in polydisperse systems lacking such order an intrinsic finite size confinement effect increases diffusivity in the circumferential direction.