Hydrodynamic interaction between two swimmers at low Reynolds number

C. M. Pooley*, G. P. Alexander, J. M. Yeomans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the hydrodynamic interactions between micro-organisms swimming at low Reynolds number. By considering simple model swimmers, and combining analytic and numerical approaches, we investigate the time-averaged flow field around a swimmer. At short distances the swimmer behaves like a pump. At large distances the velocity field depends on whether the swimming stroke is invariant under a combined time-reversal and parity transformation. We then consider two swimmers and find that the interaction between them consists of two parts: a passive term, independent of the motion of the second swimmer, and an active term resulting from the simultaneous swimming action of both swimmers. The swimmer-swimmer interaction is a complicated function of their relative displacement, orientation, and phase, leading to motion that can be attractive, repulsive, or oscillatory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number228103
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2007




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