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Phys Rev Lett. 2018 Aug 3;121(5):054502. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.054502.

Invisible Anchors Trap Particles in Branching Junctions.

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Institute for Mechanical Systems, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zürich, Leonhardstrasse 21, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.
Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, USA.
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.


We combine numerical simulations and an analytic approach to show that the capture of finite, inertial particles during flow in branching junctions is due to invisible, anchor-shaped three-dimensional flow structures. These Reynolds-number-dependent anchors define trapping regions that confine particles to the junction. For a wide range of Stokes numbers, these structures occupy a large part of the flow domain. For flow in a V-shaped junction, at a critical Stokes number, we observe a topological transition due to the merger of two anchors into one. From a stability analysis, we identify the parameter region of particle sizes and densities where capture due to anchors occurs.

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