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Locomotion of helical bodies in viscoelastic fluids

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Mathematical Modelling and Analysis of Complex Fluids and Active Media in Evolving Domains

Many microorganisms swim by rotating one or many helical flagella, often propelling themselves through fluids that exhibit both viscous and elastic qualities in response to deformations. In an effort to better understand the complex interaction between the fluid and body in such systems, we have studied numerically the force-free swimming of a rotating helix in a viscoelastic (Oldroyd-B) fluid. The introduction of viscoelasticity can either enhance or retard the swimming speed depending on the body geometry and the properties of the fluid (through a dimensionless Deborah number). The numerical results show how small-amplitude theoretical calculations connect smoothly to large-amplitude experimental measurements.

Co-authors: Bin Liu (Brown University), Thomas R. Powers (Brown University)

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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