Swimming in external fields
Institut für Theoretische Physik, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 36, 10623 Berlin, Germany
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Received: 24 February 2016
Revised: 9 April 2016
Published online: 10 November 2016
Microswimmers move autonomously but are subject to external fields, which influence their swimming path and their collective dynamics. With three concrete examples we illustrate swimming in external fields and explain the methodology to treat it. First, an active Brownian particle shows a conventional sedimentation profile in a gravitational field but with increased sedimentation length and some polar order along the vertical. Bottom-heavy swimmers are able to invert the sedimentation profile.
Second, active Brownian particles interacting by hydrodynamic flow fields in a three-dimensional harmonic trap can spontaneously break the isotropic symmetry. They develop polar order, which one can describe by mean-field theory reminiscent to Weiss theory of ferromagnetism, and thereby pump fluid.
Third, a single microswimmer shows interesting non-linear dynamics in Poiseuille flow including swinging and tumbling trajectories. For pushers, hydrodynamic interactions with bounding surfaces stabilize either straight swimming against the flow or tumbling close to the channel wall, while pushers always move on a swinging trajectory with a specific amplitude as limit cycle.
© The Author(s) 2016
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