The control of particles in the Stokes limit

B. J. Walker, K. Ishimoto, E. A. Gaffney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


There are numerous ways to control objects in the Stokes regime, with microscale examples ranging from the use of optical tweezers to the application of external magnetic fields. In contrast, there are relatively few explorations of theoretical controllability, which investigate whether or not refined and precise control is indeed possible in a given system. In this work, seeking to highlight the utility and broad applicability of such rigorous analysis, we recount and illustrate key concepts of geometric control theory in the context of multiple particles in Stokesian fluids interacting with each other, such that they may be readily and widely applied in this largely unexplored fluid-dynamical setting. Motivated both by experimental and abstract questions of control, we exemplify these techniques by explicit and detailed application to multiple problems concerning the control of two particles, such as the motion of tracers in flow and the guidance of one sphere by another. Further, we showcase how this analysis of controllability can directly lead to the construction of schemes for control, in addition to facilitating explorations of mechanical efficiency and contributing to our overall understanding of non-local hydrodynamic interactions in the Stokes limit.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA1
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2022


  • control theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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