Direct Measurement of Unsteady Microscale Stokes Flow Using Optically Driven Microspheres

Nicolas Bruot, Pietro Cicuta, Hermes Bloomfield-Gadêlha, Raymond E Goldstein, Jurij Kotar, Eric Lauga, François Nadal

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A growing body of work on the dynamics of eukaryotic flagella has noted that their oscillation frequencies are sufficiently high that the viscous penetration depth of unsteady Stokes flow is comparable to the scales over which flagella synchronize. Incorporating these effects into theories of synchronization requires an understanding of the global unsteady flows around oscillating bodies. Yet, there has been no precise experimental test on the microscale of the most basic aspects of such unsteady Stokes flow: the orbits of passive tracers and the position-dependent phase lag between the oscillating response of the fluid at a distant point and that of the driving particle. Here, we report the first such direct Lagrangian measurement of this unsteady flow. The method uses an array of 30 submicron tracer particles positioned by a time-shared optical trap at a range of distances and angular positions with respect to a larger, central particle, which is then driven by an oscillating optical trap at frequencies up to 400 Hz. In this microscale regime, the tracer dynamics is considerably simplified by the smallness of both inertial effects on particle motion and finite-frequency corrections to the Stokes drag law. The tracers are found to display elliptical Lissajous figures whose orientation and geometry are in agreement with a low-frequency expansion of the underlying dynamics, and the experimental phase shift between motion parallel and orthogonal to the oscillation axis exhibits a predicted scaling form in distance and angle. Possible implications of these results for synchronization dynamics are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number053102
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by ERC Consolidator Grant No. 682754 (E.L.), ERC PoC Grant CellsBox (P.C. and J.K.), Wellcome Trust Investigator Award No. 207510/Z/17/Z, Established Career Fellowship No. EP/M017982/1 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the Marine Microbiology Initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Grant No. 7523 (R.E.G.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 authors. Published by the American Physical Society.


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