Fluid particle diffusion in a semidilute suspension of model micro-organisms

Takuji Ishikawa, J. T. Locsei, T. J. Pedley

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51 Citations (Scopus)


We calculate non-Brownian fluid particle diffusion in a semidilute suspension of swimming micro-organisms. Each micro-organism is modeled as a spherical squirmer, and their motions in an infinite suspension otherwise at rest are computed by the Stokesian-dynamics method. In calculating the fluid particle motions, we propose a numerical method based on a combination of the boundary element technique and Stokesian dynamics. We present details of the numerical method and examine its accuracy. The limitation of semidiluteness is required to ensure accuracy of the fluid particle velocity calculation. In the case of a suspension of non-bottom-heavy squirmers the spreading of fluid particles becomes diffusive in a shorter time than that of the squirmers, and the diffusivity of fluid particles is smaller than that of squirmers. It is confirmed that the probability density distribution of fluid particles also shows diffusive properties. The effect of tracer particle size is investigated by inserting some inert spheres of the same radius as the squirmers, instead of fluid particles, into the suspension. The diffusivity for inert spheres is not less than one tenth of that for fluid particles, even though the particle size is totally different. Scaling analysis indicates that the diffusivity of fluid particles and inert spheres becomes proportional to the volume fraction of squirmers in the semidilute regime provided that there is no more than a small recirculation region around a squirmer, which is confirmed numerically. In the case of a suspension of bottom-heavy squirmers, horizontal diffusivity decreases considerably even with small values of the bottom heaviness, which indicates the importance of bottom heaviness in the diffusion phenomena. We believe that these fundamental findings will enhance our understanding of the basic mechanics of a suspension of swimming micro-organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021408
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug 27


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