Jonathan Tu has new flagella paper out in Phys Rev E

Decoupling translational and rotational effects on the phase synchronization of rotating helices

The locomotion of swimming microorganisms often relies on synchronized motions; examples include the bundling of flagella and metachronal coordination of cilia. It is now generally accepted that such behavior can result from hydrodynamic interactions alone. In this paper we consider the interactions between two side-by-side rigid helices driven by constant torques. We use the method of regularized Stokeslets to simulate an end-pinned model, in which restoring forces and torques are applied at one end of each helix. This allows us to decouple the respective effects of translation and rotation on phase synchronization. We find that while translational freedom leads to synchrony, rotational freedom can result in either synchrony or antisynchrony, depending on the stiffness of the system. In addition, we characterize the nature of the physical mechanisms driving these behaviors, focusing on the individual effects of each applied force and torque. For translational freedom, there is a single underlying mechanism in which the interaction forces indirectly influence the helix rotation rates. Multiple mechanisms are at play for rotational freedom: the interaction torques may exert either direct or indirect influence depending on stiffness. These characterizations are important to the future development of reduced-order models, which should capture not only the expected end behaviors (synchrony or antisynchrony), but also the nature of the driving mechanisms.


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