Coupled motion of microscale and nanoscale elastic objects in a viscous fluid
We study the coupled dynamics of two closely spaced micron or nanoscale elastic objects immersed in a viscous fluid. The dynamics of the elastic objects are coupled through the motion of the surrounding viscous fluid. We consider two cases: (i) one object is driven externally by an imposed harmonic actuation force and the second object is passive and (ii) both objects are driven by a Brownian force to yield stochastic dynamics. Using a harmonic oscillator approximation for the elastic objects and the unsteady Stokes equations to describe the fluid dynamics, we develop analytical expressions for the amplitude and phase of the displacement of the oscillating objects. For the case of an imposed actuation we use an impulse in force to determine the resulting dynamics over all frequencies. For the Brownian-driven objects the stochastic dynamics are found using the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. We validate our theoretical expressions by comparison with results from finite-element numerical simulations of the complete fluid-solid interaction problem. Our results yield interesting features in the amplitude and phase of the displacement of the elastic objects due to the fluid motion. We find that the dynamics depend on the separation of the objects, a measure of the mass loading due to the fluid, and the frequency parameter which acts as a frequency-based Reynolds number. Our results are valid over the range of parameters typical of micron and nanoscale elastic objects in fluid. The range of dynamics found can be understood in terms of the interplay between the viscous and potential components of the fluid flow field described by the unsteady Stokes equation for an oscillating cylinder. For small values of the frequency parameter, typical of nanoscale elastic objects, the dynamics are overdamped due to the dominance of viscous forces over inertial forces. For moderate and large values of the frequency parameter, typical of micron-scale elastic objects, we find that the dynamics of the fluid-coupled objects exhibits an interesting mode splitting to yield a bimodal signature in the amplitude-frequency plots. We find that the mode splitting can be described using a normal mode analysis containing only potential fluid interactions between the cylinders.