Modeling microflow and stirring around a microrotor in creeping flow using a quasi-steady-state analysis

Anil K. Vuppu, Antonio Garcia, Sanjoy K. Saha, Patrick Phelan, Mark Hayes, Ronald Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The microflow and stirring around paramagnetic particle microchains, referred to as microrotors, are modeled as a circular cylinder rotating about its radial axis at very low Reynolds number. Time scales for momentum transfer under these conditions are determined to be much smaller than those for boundary movement, hence a quasi-steady approximation can be used. The flow is derived at every instant from the case of a steady motion of a horizontally translating cylinder, with the rotation approximated to a series of differential incremental translations. A numerical simulation is used to determine the pathlines and material lines of virtual point fluid elements, which were analyzed to understand the behavior of the flow around the microrotor. The results indicate the flow to be unsteady, with chaotic advection observed in the system. The fluid motion is primarily two-dimensional, parallel to the rotational plane, with mixing limited to the immediate area around the rotating cylinder. Fluid layers, up to many cylinder diameters, in the axial direction experience the disturbance. Elliptic and star shaped pathlines, including periodic orbits, are observed depending on the fluid element's initial location. The trajectories and phase angles compare well with the experimental results, as well as with data from particle dynamics simulations. Material lines and streaklines display stretching and folding, which are indicative of the chaotic behavior and stirring characteristics of the system. The material lines have similar lengths for the same amount of rotation at different speeds, and the effect of rotational speeds appears to be primarily to change the time of mixing. The results are expected to help in the design of a particle microrotor based sensing technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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