Hydrodynamic synchronization of colloidal oscillators

J Koptar, M Leoni, B Bassetti, M Cosentino Lagomarsino, P Cicuta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Two colloidal spheres are maintained in oscillation by switching the position of an optical trap when a sphere reaches a limit position, leading to oscillations that are bounded in amplitude but free in phase and period. The interaction between the oscillators is only through the hydrodynamic flow induced by their motion. We prove that in the absence of stochastic noise the antiphase dynamical state is stable, and we show how the period depends on coupling strength. Both features are observed experimentally. As the natural frequencies of the oscillators are made progressively different, the coordination is quickly lost. These results help one to understand the origin of hydrodynamic synchronization and how the dynamics can be tuned. Cilia and flagella are biological systems coupled hydrodynamically, exhibiting dramatic collective motions. We propose that weakly correlated phase fluctuations, with one of the oscillators typically precessing the other, are characteristic of hydrodynamically coupled systems in the presence of thermal noise.
Translated title of the contributionHydrodynamic synchronization of colloidal oscillators
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7669 - 7673
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume107, issue 17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher: National Acadmy of Sciences

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