Geometric Mixing, Peristalsis, and the Geometric Phase of the Stomach
Mixing fluid in a container at low Reynolds number-in an inertialess environment-is not a trivial task. Reciprocating motions merely lead to cycles of mixing and unmixing, so continuous rotation, as used in many technological applications, would appear to be necessary. However, there is another solution: movement of the walls in a cyclical fashion to introduce a geometric phase. We show using journal-bearing flow as a model that such geometric mixing is a general tool for using deformable boundaries that return to the same position to mix fluid at low Reynolds number. We then simulate a biological example: we show that mixing in the stomach functions because of the "belly phase," peristaltic movement of the walls in a cyclical fashion introduces a geometric phase that avoids unmixing.