Speaker: David Saintillan, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Title: Confining Active Fluids
Abstract: Recent experimental studies have shown that confinement can profoundly affect self-organization in semi-dilute active suspensions, leading to striking features such as the formation of steady and spontaneous vortices in circular domains and the emergence of unidirectional pumping motions in periodic racetrack geometries. Motivated by these findings, we analyze the two-dimensional dynamics in confined suspensions of active self-propelled swimmers using a mean-field kinetic theory where conservation equations for the particle configurations are coupled to the forced Navier-Stokes equations for the self-generated fluid flow. In circular domains, a systematic exploration of the parameter space casts light on three distinct states: equilibrium with no flow, stable vortex, and chaotic motion, and the transitions between these are explained and predicted quantitatively using a linearized theory. In periodic racetracks, similar transitions from equilibrium to net pumping to traveling waves to chaos are observed in agreement with experimental observations and are also explained theoretically. Our results underscore the subtle effects of geometry on the morphology and dynamics of emerging patterns in active suspensions and pave the way for the control of active collective motion in microfluidic devices.