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      Propulsion and Instability of a Flexible Helical Rod Rotating in a Viscous Fluid.

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          Abstract

          We combine experiments with simulations to investigate the fluid-structure interaction of a flexible helical rod rotating in a viscous fluid, under low Reynolds number conditions. Our analysis takes into account the coupling between the geometrically nonlinear behavior of the elastic rod with a nonlocal hydrodynamic model for the fluid loading. We quantify the resulting propulsive force, as well as the buckling instability of the originally helical filament that occurs above a critical rotation velocity. A scaling analysis is performed to rationalize the onset of this instability. A universal phase diagram is constructed to map out the region of successful propulsion and the corresponding boundary of stability is established. Comparing our results with data for flagellated bacteria suggests that this instability may be exploited in nature for physiological purposes.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Phys Rev Lett
          Physical review letters
          American Physical Society (APS)
          1079-7114
          0031-9007
          Oct 16 2015
          : 115
          : 16
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
          [2 ] Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
          [3 ] Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
          Article
          10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.168101
          26550904
          324d39f5-53cc-4092-b1da-e3053de42a3e
          History

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