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Published January 14, 2018 | Submitted
Journal Article Open

The curved kinetic boundary layer of active matter


A body submerged in active matter feels the swim pressure through a kinetic accumulation boundary layer on its surface. The boundary layer results from a balance between translational diffusion and advective swimming and occurs on the microscopic length scale λ^(-1) = δ/√2[1+1/6(ℓ/δ)^2] . Here λ = √D_Tτ_R, D_T is the Brownian translational diffusivity, τ_R is the reorientation time and ℓ = U0τR is the swimmer's run length, with U_0 the swim speed [Yan and Brady, J. Fluid. Mech., 2015, 785, R1]. In this work we analyze the swim pressure on arbitrary shaped bodies by including the effect of local shape curvature in the kinetic boundary layer. When δ ≪ L and ℓ ≪ L, where L is the body size, the leading order effects of curvature on the swim pressure are found analytically to scale as JSλδ^2/L, where JS is twice the (non-dimensional) mean curvature. Particle-tracking simulations and direct solutions to the Smoluchowski equation governing the probability distribution of the active particles show that λδ^2/L is a universal scaling parameter not limited to the regime δ, ℓ ≪ L. The net force exerted on the body by the swimmers is found to scale as F^(net)/(n^∞k_sT_sL^2) = f(λδ^2/L), where f(x) is a dimensionless function that is quadratic when x ≪ 1 and linear when x ∼ 1. Here, k_sT_s= ζU0^2τ_R/6 defines the 'activity' of the swimmers, with ζ the drag coefficient, and n^∞ is the uniform number density of swimmers far from the body. We discuss the connection of this boundary layer to continuum mechanical descriptions of active matter and briefly present how to include hydrodynamics into this purely kinetic study.

Additional Information

© 2017 Royal Society of Chemistry. Received 16th August 2017, Accepted 8th December 2017. First published on 8th December 2017. We thank Eric W. Burkholder for the mathematical construction (11). This work is supported by NSF-CBET 1437570. There are no conflicts to declare.

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