Complex magnetohydrodynamic low-Reynolds-number flows

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Xiang, Yu

The interaction between electric currents and a magnetic field is used to produce body (Lorentz) forces in electrolyte solutions. By appropriate patterning of the electrodes, one can conveniently control the direction and magnitude of the electric currents and induce spatially and temporally complicated flow patterns. This capability is useful, not only for fundamental flow studies, but also for inducing fluid flow and stirring in minute devices in which the incorporation of moving components may be difficult. This paper focuses on a theoretical and experimental study of magnetohydrodynamic flows in a conduit with a rectangular cross section. The conduit is equipped with individually controlled electrodes uniformly spaced at a pitch L. The electrodes are aligned transversely to the conduit's axis. The entire device is subjected to a uniform magnetic field. The electrodes are divided into two groups A and C in such a way that there is an electrode of group C between any two electrodes of group A. We denote the various A and C electrodes with subscripts, i.e., Ai and Ci , where i = 0, ±1, ±2, ... . When positive and negative potentials are, respectively, applied to the even and odd numbered A electrodes, opposing electric currents are induced on the right and left hand sides of each A electrode. These currents generate transverse forces that drive cellular convection in the conduit. We refer to the resulting flow pattern as A. When electrodes of group C are activated, a similar flow pattern results, albeit shifted in space. We refer to this flow pattern as C. By alternating periodically between patterns A and C, one induces Lagrangian chaos. Such chaotic advection may be beneficial for stirring fluids, particularly in microfluidic devices. Since the flow patterns A and C are shifted in space, they also provide a mechanism for Lagrangian drift that allows net migration of passive tracers along the conduit's length.

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Copyright American Physical Society. Reprinted from Physical Review E, Volume 68, Issue 1, Article 016312, July 2003, 11 pages. Publisher URL:
Copyright 2001 IEEE. Reprinted from Proceedings of the 40th IEEE Conference on Volume 2001, pages 780-785 vol.1. This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Such permission of the IEEE does not in any way imply IEEE endorsement of any of the University of Pennsylvania's products or services. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the IEEE by writing to By choosing to view this document, you agree to all provisions of the copyright laws protecting it.
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