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Emergent collective dynamics of pusher and puller squirmer rods: swarming, clustering, and turbulence

Zantop, Arne W.; Stark, Holger

We study the interplay of steric and hydrodynamic interactions in suspensions of elongated microswimmers by simulating the full hydrodynamics of squirmer rods in the quasi two-dimensional geometry of a Hele-Shaw cell. To create pusher or puller-type squirmer rods, we concentrate the surface slip-velocity field more to the back or to the front of the rod and thereby are able to tune the rod's force-dipole strength. We study a wide range of aspect ratios and area fractions and provide corresponding state diagrams. The flow field of pusher-type squirmer rods destabilizes ordered structures and favors the disordered state at small area fractions and aspect ratios. Only when steric interactions become relevant, we observe a turbulent and dynamic cluster state, while for large aspect ratios a single swarm and jammed cluster occurs. The power spectrum of the turbulent state shows two distinct energy cascades at small and large wave numbers with power-law scaling and non-universal exponents. Pullers show a strong tendency to form swarms instead of the disordered state found for neutral and pusher rods. At large area fractions a dynamic cluster is observed and at larger aspect ratio a single swarm or jammed cluster occurs.
Published in: Soft Matter, 10.1039/D2SM00449F, Royal Society of Chemistry