All good things come in threes-Three beads learn to swim with lattice Boltzmann and a rigid body solver

Kristina Pickl, Jan Götz, Klaus Iglberger, Jayant Pande, Klaus Mecke, Ana Sunčana Smith, Ulrich Rüde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We simulate the self-propulsion of devices in a fluid in the regime of low Reynolds numbers. Each device consists of three bodies (spheres or capsules) connected with two damped harmonic springs. Sinusoidal driving forces compress the springs which are resolved within a rigid body physics engine. The latter is consistently coupled to a 3D lattice Boltzmann framework for the fluid dynamics. In simulations of three-sphere devices, we find that the propulsion velocity agrees well with theoretical predictions. In simulations where some or all spheres are replaced by capsules, we find that the asymmetry of the design strongly affects the propelling efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-387
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computational Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Kompetenznetzwerk für Technisch-Wissenschaftliches Hoch- und Höchstleistungsrechnen in Bayern ( konwihr ) under project waLBerlaMC and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung under the SKALB project no. 01IH08003A. Moreover, the authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Engineering of Advanced Materials’ at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of its ‘Excellence Initiative’.


  • Lattice Boltzmann method
  • Numerical simulation
  • Self-propelled microorganism
  • Stokes flow


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