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      The hydrodynamics of swimming microorganisms

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          Abstract

          Cell motility in viscous fluids is ubiquitous and affects many biological processes, including reproduction, infection, and the marine life ecosystem. Here we review the biophysical and mechanical principles of locomotion at the small scales relevant to cell swimming (tens of microns and below). The focus is on the fundamental flow physics phenomena occurring in this inertia-less realm, and the emphasis is on the simple physical picture. We review the basic properties of flows at low Reynolds number, paying special attention to aspects most relevant for swimming, such as resistance matrices for solid bodies, flow singularities, and kinematic requirements for net translation. Then we review classical theoretical work on cell motility: early calculations of the speed of a swimmer with prescribed stroke, and the application of resistive-force theory and slender-body theory to flagellar locomotion. After reviewing the physical means by which flagella are actuated, we outline areas of active research, including hydrodynamic interactions, biological locomotion in complex fluids, the design of small-scale artificial swimmers, and the optimization of locomotion strategies.

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          Microscopic artificial swimmers.

          Microorganisms such as bacteria and many eukaryotic cells propel themselves with hair-like structures known as flagella, which can exhibit a variety of structures and movement patterns. For example, bacterial flagella are helically shaped and driven at their bases by a reversible rotary engine, which rotates the attached flagellum to give a motion similar to that of a corkscrew. In contrast, eukaryotic cells use flagella that resemble elastic rods and exhibit a beating motion: internally generated stresses give rise to a series of bends that propagate towards the tip. In contrast to this variety of swimming strategies encountered in nature, a controlled swimming motion of artificial micrometre-sized structures has not yet been realized. Here we show that a linear chain of colloidal magnetic particles linked by DNA and attached to a red blood cell can act as a flexible artificial flagellum. The filament aligns with an external uniform magnetic field and is readily actuated by oscillating a transverse field. We find that the actuation induces a beating pattern that propels the structure, and that the external fields can be adjusted to control the velocity and the direction of motion.
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            From Kuramoto to Crawford: exploring the onset of synchronization in populations of coupled oscillators

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              Self-motile colloidal particles: from directed propulsion to random walk

              The motion of an artificial micro-scale swimmer that uses a chemical reaction catalyzed on its own surface to achieve autonomous propulsion is fully characterized experimentally. It is shown that at short times, it has a substantial component of directed motion, with a velocity that depends on the concentration of fuel molecules. At longer times, the motion reverts to a random walk with a substantially enhanced diffusion coefficient. Our results suggest strategies for designing artificial chemotactic systems.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                15 December 2008
                Article
                10.1088/0034-4885/72/9/096601
                0812.2887
                3fcee29e-59fc-43d6-93bd-8adb909d8405

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                History
                Custom metadata
                Rep. Prog. Phys. (2009) 72, 096601
                Review article
                cond-mat.soft physics.bio-ph physics.flu-dyn

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