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Chaos. 2010 Mar;20(1):017511. doi: 10.1063/1.3271340.

Using Lagrangian coherent structures to analyze fluid mixing by cilia.

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Department of Mathematics, Tulane University, 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, USA.


Motivated by the desire to understand the fluid flow within the airway surface liquid of the lung, we consider the flow generated by a computational model of a motile, internally actuated cilium. The cilium, along with a mucus layer modeled by linear elastic elements, is coupled to a viscous, incompressible fluid. The evolution of this coupled system is captured using an immersed boundary method. The Eulerian velocity field computed on a grid is used to compute finite-time Lyapunov exponent fields, whose maximal ridges identify Lagrangian coherent structures (LCSs). The computed LCS uncovers a barrier that separates a recirculation region of fluid that remains near the beating cilium from fluid that is advected downstream. Moreover, periodic stretching and folding of this region gives rise to complex mixing. Flow structures around a cilium propelling a mucus layer are compared to flow structures around a cilium with no mucus load.

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