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Title: Low Reynolds number swimming in complex environments
Author: Samson, Ophir
ISNI:       0000 0004 2683 8274
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2010
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The study of swimming micro-organisms has been of interest not just to biologists, but also to fluid dynamicists for over a century. As they are rarely in isolation, much interest has been focused on the study of the swimmers’ interaction with their environment. By virtue of the typically small sizes of these organisms and their swimming protocols, the characteristic Reynolds number of the motion of the fluid around them is small. Hence they reside in a Stokes flow regime where viscous forces dominate inertial effects and where far-field interactions (e.g. with nearby walls) can have a significant effect on the swimmer’s dynamical evolution. This thesis provides a detailed investigation of idealised models of low Reynolds number swimmers in a variety of wall-bounded fluid domains. Our approach employs a combination of analytical and numerical techniques. A simple two-dimensional point singularity is used to model a swimmer. We first study its dynamics when placed in the half-plane above an infinite no-slip wall and find it to be in qualitative agreement with numerical and experimental studies. The success of the model in this case encourages its use to study the swimmer’s dynamics in more complicated domains. Specifically, we next explore the dynamics of the same swimmer above an infinite straight wall with a single gap, or orifice. Using techniques of complex analysis and conformal mapping theory, a dynamical system governing the swimmer’s motion is explicitly derived. This analysis is then extended to the case in which the swimmer evolves near an infinite straight wall with two gaps. We are also interested in how the presence of background flows can affect the swimmer’s dynamics in these confined geometries. We therefore employ the same techniques of complex analysis and conformal mappings to find analytical expressions for pressure-driven flows near a wall with either one or two gaps. We then extend this to find new solutions for the shear flows and stagnation point flows in the same geometry. The effect of a background shear flow on the swimmer’s dynamics is then explored. Finally, while there have been a number of studies of Stokes flows within domains which are simply connected, the doubly connected analogues are rather rare. By building upon the analytical techniques presented in this thesis, we present numerical solutions to such problems, including that of theWeis-Fogh mechanism in the low Reynolds number regime.
Supervisor: Crowdy, Darren Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral