Invisible Anchors Trap Particles in Branching Junctions

David Oettinger, Jesse T. Ault, Howard A. Stone, George Haller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


We combine numerical simulations and an analytic approach to show that the capture of finite, inertial particles during flow in branching junctions is due to invisible, anchor-shaped three-dimensional flow structures. These Reynolds-number-dependent anchors define trapping regions that confine particles to the junction. For a wide range of Stokes numbers, these structures occupy a large part of the flow domain. For flow in a V-shaped junction, at a critical Stokes number, we observe a topological transition due to the merger of two anchors into one. From a stability analysis, we identify the parameter region of particle sizes and densities where capture due to anchors occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number054502
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 3 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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