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Multi-scale statistics of turbulence motorized by active matter

  • J. Urzay (a1), A. Doostmohammadi (a2) and J. M. Yeomans (a2)


A number of micro-scale biological flows are characterized by spatio-temporal chaos. These include dense suspensions of swimming bacteria, microtubule bundles driven by motor proteins and dividing and migrating confluent layers of cells. A characteristic common to all of these systems is that they are laden with active matter, which transforms free energy in the fluid into kinetic energy. Because of collective effects, the active matter induces multi-scale flow motions that bear strong visual resemblance to turbulence. In this study, multi-scale statistical tools are employed to analyse direct numerical simulations (DNS) of periodic two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) active flows and to compare the results to classic turbulent flows. Statistical descriptions of the flows and their variations with activity levels are provided in physical and spectral spaces. A scale-dependent intermittency analysis is performed using wavelets. The results demonstrate fundamental differences between active and high-Reynolds-number turbulence; for instance, the intermittency is smaller and less energetic in active flows, and the work of the active stress is spectrally exerted near the integral scales and dissipated mostly locally by viscosity, with convection playing a minor role in momentum transport across scales.


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Multi-scale statistics of turbulence motorized by active matter

  • J. Urzay (a1), A. Doostmohammadi (a2) and J. M. Yeomans (a2)


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