Purdue University Graduate School
PhD Thesis_Vaseem Shaik.pdf (4.4 MB)

The Motion of Drops and Swimming Microorganisms: Mysterious Influences of Surfactants, Hydrodynamic Interactions, and Background Stratification

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posted on 2020-06-15, 16:57 authored by Vaseem A ShaikVaseem A Shaik
Microorganisms and drops are ubiquitous in nature: while drops can be found in sneezes, ink-jet printers, oceans etc, microorganisms are present in our stomach, intestine, soil, oceans etc. In most situations they are present in complex conditions: drop spreading on a rigid or soft substrate, drop covered with impurities that act as surfactants, marine microbe approaching a surfactant laden drop in density stratified oceanic waters in the event of an oil spill etc. In this thesis, we extract the physics underlying the influence of two such complicated effects (surfactant redistribution and density-stratification) on the motion of drops and swimming microorganisms when they are in isolation or in the vicinity of each other. This thesis is relevant in understanding the bioremediation of oil spill by marine microbes.

We divide this thesis into two themes. In the first theme, we analyze the motion of motile microorganisms near a surfactant-laden interface in homogeneous fluids. We begin by calculating the translational and angular velocities of a swimming microorganism outside a surfactant-laden drop by assuming the surfactant is insoluble, incompressible, and non-diffusing, as such system is relevant in the context of bioremediation of oil spill. We then study the motion of swimming microorganism lying inside a surfactant-laden drop by assuming the surfactant is insoluble, compressible, and has large surface diffusivity. This system is ideal for exploring the nonlinearities associated with the surfactant transport phenomena and is relevant in the context of targeted drug delivery systems wherein one uses synthetic swimmers to transport the drops containing drug. We then analyze the motion of a swimming organism in a liquid film covered with surfactant without making any assumptions about the surfactant and this system is relevant in the case of free-standing films containing swimming organisms as well as in the initial stages of the biofilm formation. In the second theme, we consider a density-stratified background fluid without any surfactants. In this theme, we examine separately a towed drop and a swimming microorganism, and find the drag acting on the drop, drop deformation, and the drift volume induced by the drop as well as the motility of the swimming microorganism.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Arezoo M. Ardekani

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Steven T. Wereley

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Guang Lin

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Sangtae Kim