Regular Article - Living Systems
Gyrotactic cluster formation of bottom-heavy squirmers
Institut für Theoretische Physik, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 36, D-10623, Berlin, Germany
Accepted: 7 March 2022
Published online: 18 March 2022
Squirmers that are bottom-heavy experience a torque that aligns them along the vertical so that they swim upwards. In a suspension of many squirmers, they also interact hydrodynamically via flow fields that are initiated by their swimming motion and by gravity. Swimming under the combined action of flow field vorticity and gravitational torque is called gyrotaxis. Using the method of multi-particle collision dynamics, we perform hydrodynamic simulations of a many-squirmer system floating above the bottom surface. Due to gyrotaxis they exhibit pronounced cluster formation with increasing gravitational torque. The clusters are more volatile at low values but compactify to smaller clusters at larger torques. The mean distance between clusters is mainly controlled by the gravitational torque and not the global density. Furthermore, we observe that neutral squirmers form clusters more easily, whereas pullers require larger gravitational torques due to their additional force-dipole flow fields. We do not observe clustering for pusher squirmers. Adding a rotlet dipole to the squirmer flow field induces swirling clusters. At high gravitational strengths, the hydrodynamic interactions with the no-slip boundary create an additional vertical alignment for neutral squirmers, which also supports cluster formation.
© The Author(s) 2022
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