Tuning chemotactic and diffusiophoretic spreading via hydrodynamic flows
The transport of microorganisms by chemotaxis is described by the same “log-sensing” response as colloids undergoing diffusiophoresis, despite their different mechanistic origins. We employ a recently-developed macrotransport theory to analyze the advective–diffusive transport of a chemotactic or diffusiophoretic colloidal species (both referred to as “colloids”) in a circular tube under a steady pressure-driven flow (referred to as hydrodynamic flow) and transient solute gradient. First, we derive an exact solution to the log-sensing chemotactic/diffusiophoretic macrotransport equation. We demonstrate that a strong hydrodynamic flow can reduce spreading of solute-repelled colloids, by eliminating super-diffusion which occurs in an otherwise quiescent system. In contrast, hydrodynamic flows always enhance spreading of solute-attracted colloids. Second, we generalize the exact solution to show that the above tunable spreading phenomena by hydrodynamic flows persist quantitatively for decaying colloids, as may occur with cell death, for example. Third, we examine the spreading of chemotactic colloids by employing a more general model that captures a hallmark of chemotaxis, that log-sensing occurs only over a finite range of solute concentration. Apart from demonstrating for the first time the generality of the macrotransport theory to incorporate an arbitrary chemotactic flow model, we reveal via numerical solutions new regimes of anomalous spreading, which match qualitatively with experiments and are tunable by hydrodynamic flows. The results presented here could be employed to tailor chemotactic/diffusiophoretic colloid transport using hydrodynamic flows, which are central to applications such as oil recovery and bioremediation of aquifers.