Simulation of an autonomous motility of elastic filaments due to a spontaneous flow-symmetry breaking
We simulate the nonlocal Stokesian hydrodynamics of an elastic filament with a permanent distribution of stresslets along its contour. A bending instability of an initially straight filament spontaneously breaks flow symmetry and leads to autonomous filament motion which, depending on conformational symmetry can be translational or rotational. At high ratios of stresslet strength to elasticity, the linear instability develops into non-linear fluctuating states with large amplitude deformations. The dynamics of these states can be qualitatively understood as a superposition of translational and rotational motion associated with filament conformational modes of opposite symmetry. Our results can be tested in molecular-motor filament mixtures, synthetic chains of autocatalytic particles or other linearly connected systems where chemical energy is converted to mechanical energy in a fluid environment.