Dynamics and Stability of Low Reynolds Number Swimming Near a Wall

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Yizhar Or, Sebastian Zhang, Richard M Murray
SIAM Journal of Applied Dynamical Systems (SIADS), 10(3):1013–1041

Locomotion of microorganisms and tiny artificial swimmers is governed by low- Reynolds-number hydrodynamics, where viscous effects dominate and inertial effects are negligible. While the theory of low-Reynolds-number locomotion is well studied for unbounded fluid domains, the presence of a boundary has a significant influence on the swimmer's trajectories, and poses problems of dynamic stability of its motion. In this paper we consider a simple theoretical model of a micro-swimmer near a wall, study its dynamics, and analyze the stability of its motion. We highlight the underlying geometric structure of the dynamics, and establish a relation between the reversing symmetry of the system and existence and stability of periodic and steady solutions of motion near the wall. The results are demonstrated by numerical simulations and validated by motion experiments with robotic swimmer prototypes.