Transient instabilities and transition of flowing capsule-trains

Elastic capsules flowing in small enough tubes, such as red blood cells in capillaries, are well known to line up into regular single-file trains. The stability of such trains in somewhat wider channels, where this organization is not observed, is studied in a two-dimensional model system that includes full coupling between the viscous flow and suspended capsules. A diverse set of linearly amplifying disturbances, both long-time asymptotic (modal) and transient (nonmodal) perturbations, is identified and analyzed. These have a range of amplification rates and their corresponding forms are wavelike, typically dominated by one of five principal perturbation classes: longitudinal and transverse translations, tilts, and symmetric and asymmetric shape distortions. Finite-amplitude transiently amplifying perturbations are shown to provide a mechanism that can bypass slower asymptotic modal linear growth and precipitate the onset of nonlinear effects. Direct numerical simulations are used to verify the linear analysis and track the subsequent transition of the regular capsule trains into an apparently chaotic flow.


S. H. Bryngelson and J. B. Freund, “Capsule-train stability,” Phys. Rev. Fluids 1, 033201 (2016)