The diffusion of red blood cells (RBCs) in blood is important to the physiology and pathology of the cardiovascular system. In this study, we investigate flow-induced diffusion of RBCs in a semi-dilute system by calculating the pairwise interactions between RBCs in simple shear flow. A capsule with a hyperelastic membrane was used to model an RBC. Its deformation was resolved using the finite element method, whereas fluid motion inside and outside the RBC was solved using the boundary element method. The results show that shear-induced RBC diffusion is significantly anisotropic, i.e. the velocity gradient direction component is larger than the vorticity direction. We also found that the motion of RBCs during the interaction is strongly dependent on the viscosity ratio of the internal to external fluid, and the diffusivity decreases monotonically as the viscosity ratio increases. The scaling argument also suggests that the diffusivity is proportional to the shear rate and haematocrit, if the suspension is in a semi-dilute environment and the capillary number is invariant. These fundamental findings are useful to understand transport phenomena in blood flow.
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