While the number of publications on rotating active matter has rapidly increased in recent years, studies on purely hydrodynamically interacting rotors on the microscale are still rare, especially from the perspective of particle based hydrodynamic simulations. The work presented here targets to fill this gap. By means of high-performance computer simulations, performed in a highly parallelised fashion on graphics processing units, the dynamics of ensembles of up to 70,000 rotating colloids immersed in an explicit mesoscopic solvent consisting out of up to 30 million fluid particles, are investigated. Some of the results presented in this thesis have been worked out in collaboration with experimentalists, such that the theoretical considerations developed in this thesis are supported by experiments, and vice versa. The studied system, modelled in order to resemble the essential physics of the experimentally realisable system, consists out of rotating magnetic colloidal particles, i.e., (micro-)rotors, rotating in sync to an externally applied magnetic field, where the rotors solely interact via hydrodynamic and steric interactions. Overall, the agreement between simulations and experiments is very good, proving that hydrodynamic interactions play a key role in this and related systems.
While already an isolated rotating colloid is driven out of equilibrium, only collections of two or more rotors have experimentally shown to be able to convert the rotational energy input into translational dynamics in an orbital rotating fashion. The rotating colloids inject circular flows into the fluid, such that detailed balance is broken, and it is not a priori known whether equilibrium properties of colloids can be extended to isolated rotating colloids. A joint theoretical and experimental analysis of isolated, pairs, and small groups of hydrodynamically interacting rotors is given in chapter 2. While the translational dynamics of isolated rotors effectively resemble the dynamics of non-rotating colloids, the orbital rotation of pairs of rotors can be described with leading order hydrodynamics and a two-dimensional analogy of Faxén’s law is derived.
In chapter 3, a homogeneously distributed ensemble of rotors (bulk) as a realisation of a chiral active fluid is studied and it is explicitly shown computationally and experimentally that it carries odd viscosity. The mutual orbital translation of rotors and an increase of the effective solvent viscosity with rotor density lead to a non-monotonous behaviour of the average translational velocity. Meanwhile, the rotor suspension bears a finite osmotic compressibility resulting from the long-ranged nature of hydrody- namic interactions such that rotational and odd stresses are transmitted through the solvent also at small and intermediate rotor densities. Consequently, density inhomogeneities predicted for chiral active fluids with odd viscosity can be found and allow for an explicit measurement of odd viscosity in simulations and experiments. At intermediate densities, the collective dynamics shows the emergence of multi-scale vortices and chaotic motion which is identified as active turbulence with a self-similar power-law decay in the energy spectrum, showing that the injected energy on the rotor scale is transported to larger scales, similar to the inverse energy cascade of clas- sical two-dimensional turbulence. While either odd viscosity or active turbulence have been reported in chiral active matter previously, the system studied here shows that the emergence of both simultaneously is possible resulting from the osmotic compressibility and hydrodynamic mediation of odd and active stresses. The collective dynamics of colloids rotating out of phase, i.e., where a constant torque instead of a constant angular velocity is applied, is shown to be qualitatively very similar. However, at smaller densities, local density inhomogeneities imply position dependent angular velocities of the rotors resulting from inter-rotor friction.
While the friction of a quasi-2D layer of active colloids with the substrate is often not easily modifiable in experiments, the incorporation of substrate friction into the simulation models typically implies a considerable increase in computational effort. In chapter 4, a very efficient way of incorporating the friction with a substrate into a two-dimensional multiparticle collision dynamics solvent is introduced, allowing for an explicit investigation of the influences of substrate on active dynamics. For the rotor fluid, it is explicitly shown that the influence of the substrate friction results in a cutoff of the hydrodynamic interaction length, such that the maximum size of the formed vortices is controlled by the substrate friction, also resulting in a cutoff in the energy spectrum, because energy is taken out of the system at the respective length. These findings are in agreement with the experiments.
Since active particles in confinement are known to organise in states of collective dynamics, ensembles of rotationally actuated colloids are studied in circular confinement and in the presence of periodic obstacle lattices in chapters 5 and 6, respectively. The results show that the chaotic active turbulent transport of rotors in suspension can be enhanced and guided resulting from edge flows generated at the boundaries, as has recently been reported for a related chiral active system. The consequent collective rotor dynamics can be regarded as a superposition of active turbulent and imposed flows, leading to on average stationary flows. In contrast to the bulk dynamics, the imposed flows inject additional energy into the system on the long length scales, and the same scaling behaviour of the energy spectrum as in bulk is only obtained if the energy injection scales, due to the mutual generation of rotor translational dynamics throughout the system and the edge flows, are well separated. The combination of edge flow and entropic layering at the boundaries leads to oscillating hydrodynamic stresses and consequently to an oscillating vorticity profile. In the presence of odd viscosity, this consequently leads to non-trivial steady-state density modulations at the boundary, resulting from a balance of osmotic pressure and odd stresses.
Relevant for the efficient dispersion and mixing of inert particles on the mesoscale by means of active turbulent mixing powered by rotors, a study of the dynamics of a binary mixture consisting out of rotors and passive particles is presented in chapter 7. Because the rotors are not self-propelled, but the translational dynamics is induced by the surrounding rotors, the passive particles, which do not inject further energy into the system, are transported according to the same mechanism as the rotors. The collective dynamics thus resembles the pure rotor bulk dynamics at the respective density of only rotors. However, since no odd stresses act between the passive particles, only mutual rotor interactions lead to odd stresses leading to the accumulation of rotors in the regions of positive vorticity. This density increase is associated with a pressure increase, which balances the odd stresses acting on the rotors. However, the passive particles are only subject to the accumulation induced pressure increase such that these particles are transported into the areas of low rotor concentration, i.e., the regions of negative vorticity. Under conditions of sustained vortex flow, this results in segregation of both particle types.
Since local symmetry breaking can convert injected rotational into translational energy, microswimmers can be constructed out of rotor materials when a suitable breaking of symmetry is kept in the vicinity of a rotor. One hypothetical realisation, i.e., a coupled rotor pair consisting out of two rotors of opposite angular velocity and of fixed distance, termed a birotor, are studied in chapter 8. The birotor pumps the fluid into one direction and consequently translates into the opposite direction, and creates a flow field reminiscent of a source doublet, or sliplet flow field. Fixed in space the birotor might be an interesting realisation of a microfluidic pump. The trans- lational dynamics of a birotor can be mapped onto the active Brownian particle model for single swimmers. However, due to the hydrodynamic interactions among the rotors, the birotor ensemble dynamics do not show the emergence of stable motility induced clustering. The reason for this is the flow created by birotor in small aggregates which effectively pushes further arriving birotors away from small aggregates, which eventually are all dispersed by thermal fluctuations