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Particle Transport in a Drift Ratchet as an Application Example for High-Performance CFD and FSI

Project DRatchet
Research Area Computational fluid dynamics, fluid-structure interactions, multi-physics simulations, parallel algorithms, theoretical physics, particle sorting on a microscale
Principal Investigator(s) Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Bungartz
  • Institut für Informatik, Technische Universität München, Germany
  • Institut für Physik, Universität Augsburg, Germany
  • Technical University of Cluj Napoca, Romania


The directed transport of micro-particles depending on their size is the basis for particle sorting methods that are of utmost importance in life sciences, e.g. A drift ratchet is a so-called Brownian motor that allows for such a directed transport. Hereby, the particle motion is induced by a combination of the Brownian motion and asymmetries stemming for example from the domain's geometry, electrical fields, or transient pressure boundary conditions. We simulate a particular drift ratchet which consists of a matrix of pores with asymmetrically oscillating diameter wherein a fluid with suspended particles is pumped forward and backward, and where the particles' long-term transport direction depends on their size. Thus, this setup allows for the continuous and parallel particle separation, which has already been shown experimentally. However, for a deeper understanding and for an optimized parameters' choice further investigations, i.e. simulations, are necessary. The drift ratchet simulations turn out to be computationally very expensive and, thus, require both an efficient simulation code and supercomputers. The computational costs stem from the nature of the simulated scenario (large simulation times with small time steps, multi-scale models and multi-physics phenomena) and to the movement of the particle in the complex geometry of the ratchets.


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