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Strong confinement of active microalgae leads to inversion of vortex flow and enhanced mixing

Mondal, D and Prabhune, AG and Ramaswamy, S and Sharma, P (2021) Strong confinement of active microalgae leads to inversion of vortex flow and enhanced mixing. In: eLife, 10 .

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.67663


Microorganisms swimming through viscous fluids imprint their propulsion mechanisms in the flow fields they generate. Extreme confinement of these swimmers between rigid boundaries often arises in natural and technological contexts, yet measurements of their mechanics in this regime are absent. Here, we show that strongly confining the microalga Chlamydomonas between two parallel plates not only inhibits its motility through contact friction with the walls but also leads, for purely mechanical reasons, to inversion of the surrounding vortex flows. Insights from the experiment lead to a simplified theoretical description of flow fields based on a quasi-2D Brinkman approximation to the Stokes equation rather than the usual method of images. We argue that this vortex flow inversion provides the advantage of enhanced fluid mixing despite higher friction. Overall, our results offer a comprehensive framework for analyzing the collective flows of strongly confined swimmers. © 2021, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: eLife
Publisher: eLife Sciences Publications Ltd
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to Authors
Keywords: article; Chlamydomonas; friction; microalga; nonhuman; swimming; theoretical study
Department/Centre: Division of Physical & Mathematical Sciences > Physics
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2021 05:54
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2021 05:54
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/70704

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