Homepage Inria website

Section: Research Program

From particle dynamics to continuum mechanics

DPD is well adapted to describe biological cells. However, it is a very time consuming method which becomes difficult to use if the number of particles exceeds the order of 105-106 (unless distributed computing is used). On the other hand, PDEs of continuum mechanics are essentially more efficient for numerical simulations. Moreover, they can be studied by analytical methods which have a crucial importance for the understanding of relatively simple test cases. Thus we need to address the question about the relation between DPD and PDE. The difficulty follows already from the fact that molecular dynamics with the Lennard-Jones potential can describe very different media, including fluids (compressible, incompressible, non-Newtonian, and so on) and solids (elastic, elasto-plastic, and so on). Introduction of dissipative terms in the DPD models can help to justify the transition to a continuous medium because each medium has a specific to it law of dissipation. Our first results [32] show the correspondence between a DPD model and Darcy's law describing fluid motion in a porous medium. However, we cannot expect a rigorous justification in the general case and we will have to carry out numerical comparison of the two approaches.

An interesting approach is related to hybrid models where PDEs of continuum mechanics are considered in the most part of the domain, where we do not need a microscopical description, while DPD in some particular regions are required to consider individual cells.