Hydrodynamic synchronization between objects with cyclic rigid trajectories

Nariya Uchida, Ramin Golestanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Synchronization induced by long-range hydrodynamic interactions is attracting attention as a candidate mechanism behind coordinated beating of cilia and flagella. Here we consider a minimal model of hydrodynamic synchronization in the low Reynolds number limit. The model consists of rotors, each of which assumed to be a rigid bead making a fixed trajectory under periodically varying driving force. By a linear analysis, we derive the necessary and sufficient conditions for a pair of rotors to synchronize in phase. We also derive a non-linear evolution equation for their phase difference, which is reduced to minimization of an effective potential. The effective potential is calculated for a variety of trajectory shapes and geometries (either bulk or substrated), for which the stable and metastable states of the system are identified. Finite size of the trajectory induces asymmetry of the potential, which also depends sensitively on the tilt of the trajectory. Our results show that flexibility of cilia or flagella is not a requisite for their synchronized motion, in contrast to previous expectations. We discuss the possibility to directly implement the model and verify our results by optically driven colloids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 7


  • Regular Article - Topical issue: Active Matter


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