Invisible Anchors Trap Particles in Branching Junctions

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 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

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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