Minimal two-sphere model of the generation of fluid flow at low Reynolds numbers

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

9 Citations (Scopus)


Locomotion and generation of flow at low Reynolds number are subject to severe limitations due to the irrelevance of inertia: the “scallop theorem” requires that the system have at least two degrees of freedom, which move in non-reciprocal fashion, i.e. breaking time-reversal symmetry. We show here that a minimal model consisting of just two spheres driven by harmonic potentials is capable of generating flow. In this pump system the two degrees of freedom are the mean and relative positions of the two spheres. We have performed and compared analytical predictions, numerical simulation and experiments, showing that a time-reversible drive is sufficient to induce flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)036304 - 036307
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Volume81, issue 3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher: American Physical Society

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Minimal two-sphere model of the generation of fluid flow at low Reynolds numbers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this