Inertial and geometrical effects of self-propelled elliptical Brownian particles

Federica Montana, Carlo Camporeale, Amilcare Porporato, Lamberto Rondoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Active particles that self-propel by transforming energy into mechanical motion represent a growing area of research in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Here we investigate the dynamics of nonspherical inertial active particles moving in a harmonic potential, introducing geometric parameters which take into account the role of eccentricity for nonspherical particles. A comparison between the overdamped and underdamped models for elliptical particles is performed. The model of overdamped active Brownian motion has been used to describe most of the basic aspects of micrometer-sized particles moving in a liquid ("microswimmers"). We consider active particles by extending the active Brownian motion model to incorporate translation and rotation inertia and account for the role of eccentricity. We show how the overdamped and the underdamped models behave in the same way for small values of activity (Brownian case) if eccentricity is equal to zero, but increasing eccentricity leads the two dynamics to substantially depart from each other - in particular, the action of a torque induced by external forces, induced a marked difference close to the walls of the domain if eccentricity is high. Effects induced by inertia include an inertial delay time of the self-propulsion direction from the particle velocity, and the differences between the overdamped and underdamped systems are particularly evident in the first and second moments of the particle velocities. Comparison with the experimental results of vibrated granular particles shows good agreement and corroborates the notion that self-propelling massive particles moving in gaseous media are dominated by inertial effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number054607
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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