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**Fabricio Q. Potiguar,1, ∗ G. A. Farias,2 and W. P. Ferreira2, †
**

1 Universidade Federal do Par´ a, Faculdade de F´ ısica, ICEN, Av. Augusto Correa, 1, Guam´ a, 66075-110, Bel´ em, Par´ a, Brazil 2 Departamento de F´ ısica, Universidade Federal do Cear´ a, Caixa Postal 6030, Campus do Pici, 60455-760 Fortaleza, Cear´ a, Brazil

We report numerical results which show the achievement of net transport of self-propelled particles in the presence of a regular array of convex (symmetric or asymmetric), rigid obstacles in two dimensions. The repulsive inter-particle (soft disks) and particle-obstacle interactions present no alignment rule. Our results do not depend of particle dynamics (angular-Brownian or run-andtumble), and are a consequence of the non-homogeneous distribution of symmetric or asymmetric obstacle and the tendency of the self-propelled particles to attach to solid surfaces.

PACS numbers: 87.80.Fe, 47.63.Gd, 87.15.hj, 05.40.-a

Self-Propelled particles (SPP), also called swimmers, are entities that consume internal energy to generate motion [1, 2, 3, 4] and are usually associated with motile microorganisms, artiﬁcial (Janus) micro-particles and ﬂocking animals. Physical models that simulate such particles are divided between ﬂocking (Vicsek model) [5], and angular Brownian motion (ABM) types [6] (which also include run-and-tumble dynamics - RTD) [7]. Among the characteristics of these systems there are the spontaneous appearance of motion orientational order [5, 8] and giant number ﬂuctuations [6, 8, 9]. It was also seen that SPP are capable of turning gears and produce net work on large objects [10, 11, 12, 13], provided that there is an intrinsic asymmetry in such objects. Also, it is possible to explore the intrinsic chirality of some SPP rotational motion that couple to chiral elements in their environment to separate particles based on their rotational diﬀusion [14]. In addition to these phenomena, particle motion rectiﬁcation was shown to occur when a collection of SPP is in the presence of funnel-shaped channels [7, 15, 16, 17, 18], in which they move preferentially in the easy funnel direction, although reversal motion is observed under appropriate conditions. It was also shown that self-propelled rods can be trapped by moving barriers similar to funnel channels [19]. Finally, Volpe et al. [20] showed that it is possible to sort swimmers based on their motion characteristics by using a periodic array of convex obstacles (ellipses) and an external drift force. In all these investigations, medium asymmetry (gear teeth or drift forces) is a crucial ingredient for the transport eﬀects to take place. This occurs due to the broken time-symmetry [21] in particle-obstacle interactions which allows swimmers to move along solid surfaces for a small interval of time, before changing their motion directions and leave such surfaces. Here, we report numerical results which show that the rectiﬁcation eﬀect seen in Refs. [7, 15, 16, 17] can also be obtained employing periodic arrays of symmetric (circles) or asymmetric convex obstacles without the inﬂuence of any external drift force. Our results open the possibility to devise

new sorting devices based on crystalline arrays of solid, convex obstacles. Our model consists of a two-dimensional system with N SPP in a box of dimensions LX × LY , in which there is an array of N0 static obstacles. They are arranged in a square √ lattice, with a unit cell length (UCL) of a = LX / N0 . They are either half-circles or circles (diameter D), or ellipses (long half-axis la and eccentricity k ). The SPP are modeled as soft circular disks of diameter d, which interact through linear springs of stiﬀness κ. This means that speciﬁc inter-particle and particleobstacle alignment rules [22] are absent. The swimmers move with a self-propelling velocity (SPV) vi = v0 cos θi (t)i + v0 sin θi (t)j, whose random direction, θi (t), is proportional to a Gaussian white noise ηi (t), which satisﬁes ηi (t) = 0 and ηi (t)ηj (t′ ) = (2η ∆t)1/2 δij δ (t − t′ ), and η is the noise intensity, and ∆t is the time step. The dynamics of SSP in our model system is similar to the one presented in Ref. [6], i. e., there is no thermal Brownian motion. Interactions with obstacles are also of the linear spring form, but with a stiﬀness constant κ0 >> κ, in order to approximate the rigid body limit. The equations of motion for swimmer i are written, in the overdamped case, as: ∂ ri = vi + µFi , ∂t ∂θi = ηi (t), ∂t

(1)

where µ is the particle motility, Fi = j Fij is the total force in particle i (sum is over j particles and obstacles), Fij = καij ˆ rij , and αij is the overlap distance between disk i and object (disk or obstacle) j . To compute circleellipse forces, we use the algorithm presented in Ref. [23]. Lengths are given in terms of the particle diameter d and the time unit is set by v0 = 1. Other parameter values are LX = LY = 100, κ = 10, κ0 = 1000, µ = 1, η = 5 × 10−3, ∆t = 10−3 , and we employed periodic boundary conditions (PBC) in both directions, unless otherwise noted. The equations of motion are integrated according to a second order, stochastic Runge-Kutta algorithm [24]. We

we may think of eﬀective transport as the event of one swimmer starting at one obstacle and reaching the nearest neighbor. reducing a decreases the lower limit. a. The smallest distance that this can be achieved (assuming point particles) is a − D. First. On the other hand. of the lattice unity cell. As can be observed..50 ≤ |∆x|/a ≤ 1) is clearly larger than the portion of the curve for a = 50 (0. swimmer transport is facilitated by the obstacles. For a ﬁxed obstacle size. a/4]. the lower end of the |∆x| range is lower than the corresponding end of the |∆y | range. g. a = 10. The same conclusions hold for the y direction as well. 2π ]. Finally. In Fig. 26]. at constant a and D.90 ≤ |∆x|/a ≤ 1). we start by considering a lattice of circular obstacles which is intrinsically asymmetric along. e. Since lack of symmetry is crucial to obtain net transport. In Fig. each with la = 2. more swimmers perform longer displacements along the x direction in comparison to those along y .5. In Fig. a.50 and oriented along the x direction. and/or larger D) are considered. The results presented before do not point to any net transport of the active matter. We start by showing that particle displacements are aﬀected by the obstacles. and obtained similar results to those shown in Fig. 1. respectively. Since lb ≤ la . The diﬀerence in this case is that particles move over a length lr (run length) with constant velocity direction θ. more particles will perform displacements between these two values. the displacement probabilities for such an array are presented for two distinct values of the UCL. D0 = 2. At the same time. We investigate the rectiﬁcation eﬀect by measuring the displacement probabilities in both x and y directions.5 1 0 -1 FIG. namely. We achieve this by constructing a square lattice of circles with a size gradient along x. a larger fraction of the swimmers performs displacements in the range [−a/4. In order to produce a net motion.04 0. These changes are performed independently and at distinct times. In other words. PBC along y . a. P (∆x). more particles are able to perform longer displacements (∆x/a ≈ 1) as denser lattices of obstacles (lower a. the portion of the curve that correspond to the value a = 10 (0. we ﬁnd that adding more particles always decreases the probability to perform longer displacements. for distinct lattice lengths.0 a = 12. at most. and G = 6/19. In most of our studies. The transport conditions for the elliptical obstacles in both directions are given by (1 − 2la /a) ≤ |∆x|/a ≤ 1. but constant obstacle (circles) size D = 5. which is the particle fraction diﬀerence between those to the right (NR /N ) . LX . and D0 is the diameter of the ﬁrst obstacle.02 0. 3(a). some kind of medium asymmetry should be present. Now we discuss how to obtain a net transport in one particular direction using a regular array of obstacles. Therefore. we have (1 − D/a) ≤ |∆x|/a ≤ 1. 2.0 a = 20. The curves were obtained for a period of time for a swimmer to cover. also study the case in which the swimmers obey the runand-tumble dynamics [25. obstacle size and shape. which validates our interpretation.5 0 ∆ x /a 0. In other words. while the largest one is a. Therefore.03 P(∆x) 0.. if an obstacle is located at x. Clearly. one UCL.. we show the results for the normalized probability for a particle to perform a horizontal displacement ∆x. Hence. where ST is the total area occupied by the obstacles. we show the separation eﬃciency. for distinct UCL. 1. implying that the portion of the P (∆x) curves limited by this range increases. by measuring P (∆x) as a function of φ. 2(b). 20% and 80%. k = 0. denser obstacle lattices facilitate the transport of particles (we also checked the dependence of P (∆x) on D.01 a = 50. where its diameter is given by D(x) = D0 + 2x 2a x = a/2. At ﬁrst glance. indicating that more particles just move around their initial positions. x and y . and rigid walls at x = 0. In Fig.244. 1). −a G. . Hence. since there is a signiﬁcant growth of particles that remain close to their initial positions. and (1 − 2lb /a) ≤ |∆y |/a ≤ 1 (where lb = kla ). 3a/2. we chose the sizes of the ﬁrst and last obstacles in a line to cover the same fraction. the x direction.0 -0. while the vertical one (y axis) is unaﬀected. and the particle fraction diﬀerence between distinct portions of the simulation box as functions of the UCL.2 0. we introduce a distinction between both principal lattice directions.5 a = 10. The system area fraction deﬁned as φ = N πd2 4(L2 −ST ) . 1: Normalized particle horizontal displacement probabilities. In all cases we studied. (LX − a/2). We perform simulations on this set up with LX = 2Ly = 200. by considering an array of elliptical obstacles. after which a new direction is chosen randomly and uniformly in the interval [0. we chose the obstacle diameter to be a function G = G(x). as seen in ﬁg. this result indicates a scenario that is opposite to the one we want to describe. this obstacle lattice lacks horizontal translational symmetry.. we ﬁx this parameter at φ = 0.

025 0 1 lr 100 0 0. For RTD.488 (red squares). the blue triangles represent same quantity measured at same conditions. 3: (Color online) (a): Average diﬀerence between swimmer fractions in the right and the left sides of the box. and 0. as functions of noise. in the negative size gradient direction. always produces migration in the direction of the negative . For a high enough value of η we again observe the inversion in the transport. and (b) a = 10. We can understand this inversion by the fact that for large η (small lr ). and the swimmers aggregate at the left of the box. but perhaps in a radial direction (circular size gradient).05 (b) P(∆x) P(∆y) ρ 10 0.2 -4 10 10 η -2 10 0 FIG. as a function of the noise strength η . dashed lines).4 0. with respect to the center of simulation box. at distinct area fractions: φ = 0. First.5 1 0. Results for the average particle density in each quadrant of the box are shown in Fig. but for swimmers obeying the run and tumble dynamics. FIG.25 -4 10 -2 10 0 0.3 (b) 0. The results are shown in Fig. at ﬁxed noise for various obstacle shapes and swimmer dynamics. solid lines) and ellipses (solid symbols. D0 = 2. we ﬁnd that particles migrate to the upper right portion of the lattice (larger obstacles). More elaborated construction of the obstacle lattice may be used to direct particle transport not only in vertical and horizontal directions. We set Gx = Gy = 3/19 and placed the smallest obstacle. for a = 10. particles change direction more strongly (or more frequently for RTD).3 0. (b): average swimmer fraction in lower left (black circles). in the lower left corner of the box.2 0 (a) 0. These ﬁndings prompted us to ask whether it is possible to control particle migration in any direction using this set up. We also measured particle transport as a function of the UCL. as a function of noise for an array of circles with size gradient in both x and y directions. In the inset. lr = 200. the same quantity for swimmers obeying RTD as a function of the run length.244 (black circles).025 0 -1 -0. Similar transport inversion was also observed in the case of concave surfaces (funnel channels) [7]. To show that it is indeed possible. This conﬁrms our previous observation that closer obstacles facilitates swimmer transport. ∆ρ = ( NR − NL )/N . 3 (b). x = LX /2. We may readily notice that the swimmers are able to migrate in the positive size gradient direction for most of the noise strengths we investigated. we simulated an obstacle lattice with size gradients Gx and Gy in both directions. we observe that high noise strengths. Additionally. lr . as we increase η .5 0 (∆x. obtained in arrays of circles (open symbols. We also show. and upper right (blue triangles) quadrants of the simulation box. an optimal noise strength that maximizes collective motion in the presence of a random array of soft obstacles was seen in [27]. 4. for a square array of elliptical obstacles and two distinct lattice lengths: (a) a = 50. while the largest one was in the upper right corner. instead of the phase separated system observed with funnel channels [7]. as function of run length. a. and to the left (NL /N ). we ﬁnd a similar scenario: optimal run length for maximal separation. φ. with the swimmers accumulating at the lower left part of the lattice (smaller obstacles). Particles are distributed in an increasing density proﬁle with x. We also observe that this separation has an optimal noise strength (η = 10−2 ). For noise strengths η ≤ 10−1 . lower right (red squares). the rectiﬁcation direction is inverted. Surprisingly. for both obstacle shapes (circle and ellipse). η = 1. P (∆x) and P (∆y ). upper left (green diamonds). which forces them to a region with more free space to move around. and separation inversion at small run lengths (which is equivalent to large noise amplitude). in the inset of 3(a).2 0.732 (green diamonds). 0. ∆ρ. where it is maximum.∆y)/a 0. and the lattice conﬁgurations. 2: Normalized particle horizontal and vertical displacement probabilities.05 (a) ∆ρ 0. Error bars are also shown in both panels.

We may understand this transport mechanism by looking at Fig. roughly. RTD with large run lengths. η = 10−2 . either with asymmetrical obstacles (such as half-circles. We observe that transport occurs towards the right (positive x direction). indeed. since it is easier for a swimmer to start at a ﬂat face (at any point along it) and reach the nearest curved face. FIG. produces transport in the opposite direction. with the curved section facing left (negative x direction). FAPESPA and FUNCAP (PRONEX grant). The density ﬁeld (not shown) shows strong particle accumulation around each obstacle in regions of. The velocity magnitudes are scale by 20 for better visualization. 31. like those employed here. albeit with a much lower eﬃciency. Finally. RTD with lr = 200 and circles (blue. open circles).498 and η = 10−4 for an array of four circles (a = 50) of diameter D = 25. We leave for future work investigations of the eﬃciency of transport and its dependence on particle dynamics. solid circles). CAPES. already seen experimentally [33] for SPP rods revolving around passive spheres. given their analogy. we study the case in which the obstacles are half-circles of diameters D = 5. swimmers simply stick to the curved solid walls. constant size (purple stars) and ABM. . while lower noise strengths. and shown to be hydrodynamic in nature. Error bars are also shown. in the sense that the obstacle itself is asymmetric. 5: (Color online) Average velocity ﬁeld at φ = 0.e. open squares). 32]. 5.3 100 0. lr = 200. This again is in accordance with our previous observation. is not true. This work was supported by the brazilian science foundations CNPq. The contrary.2 20|V| Y ∆ρ 0. forming vortices that can be either oriented in counter. however. even if they are convex. a. circles at η = 1 (red.1 0 10 20 30 a 40 50 0 0 X 100 0 FIG.4 0. Therefore. These conclusion open the possibility to explore distinct lattice conﬁgurations and spatial asymmetries in order to control more eﬃciently the net motion of these self-propelled particles. We reported numerical results on the behavior of selfpropelled swimmers in regular arrays of convex objects (obstacles) and showed that such an environment works as a transport facilitator. This setup is similar to a funnel channel. ﬂocking models may behave similarly to our individual swimmer model and migrate towards the positive size gradient direction.or clockwise directions. 4: (Color online) Average diﬀerence between swimmer fractions in the right and the left sides of the box as function of the unit cell length. in much the same way as funnel channels (and their analogs). Vortices in systems of SPPs were seen experimentally [28. and half-circles. we believe that. we showed that the SPP transport may be controlled as long as we break the spatial lattice symmetry. yields transport of particles with the same eﬃciency as the one observed in the ABM case. Finally. vortex interactions may play an additional role in the rectiﬁcation phenomenon. There is a clear tendency for the swimmers to revolve around the circles. i. in which we show the velocity ﬁeld for a system with four circular obstacles and PBC in both directions (similar ﬁelds are observed for ellipses as well and other conﬁgurations of circles). for circles at η = 10−2 (black. less eﬃciently) or with obstacle size gradients (more eﬃciently). three particle diameters. What is surprising is that such motion occurs in lack of any directional walls. 29] and numerically [30. In addition. in situations with closer obstacles. open triangles). and results from hydrodynamic coupling between swimmers and walls. size gradient. ellipses at η = 10−2 (black. and we leave this issue for future work.01 0. Also. This eﬀect was. These phenomena are consequences of the tendency for SPP to attach to solid surfaces.

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