Living matter, such as biological tissue, can be seen as a nonequilibrium hierarchical assembly of assemblies of smaller and smaller active components, where energy is consumed at many scales. The functionality and versatility of such living or “active-matter” systems render it a promising candidate to study and to synthetically design. While many active-matter systems reside in fluids (solution, blood, ocean, air), so far, studies that include hydrodynamic interactions have focussed on microscopic scales in Stokes flows, where the active particles are <100μm and the Reynolds number, Re <<1. At those microscopic scales viscosity dominates and inertia can be neglected. However, what happens as swimmers slightly increase in size (say ~0.1mm-100cm) or as they form larger aggregates and swarms? The system then enters the intermediate Reynolds regime where both inertia and viscosity play a role, and where nonlinearities in the fluid are introduced. In this talk, I will present a simple model swimmer used to understand the transition from Stokes to intermediate Reynolds numbers, first for a single swimmer, then for pairwise interactions and finally for collective behavior. We show that, even for a simple model, inertia can induce hydrodynamic interactions that generate novel phase behavior, steady states and multiple transitions.
Host: Professor Mattia Gazzola