A self-propelled biohybrid swimmer at low Reynolds number

Brian J. Williams, Sandeep V. Anand, Jagannathan Rajagopalan, M. Taher A. Saif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many microorganisms, including spermatozoa and forms of bacteria, oscillate or twist a hairlike flagella to swim. At this small scale, where locomotion is challenged by large viscous drag, organisms must generate time-irreversible deformations of their flagella to produce thrust. To date, there is no demonstration of a self propelled, synthetic flagellar swimmer operating at low Reynolds number. Here we report a microscale, biohybrid swimmer enabled by a unique fabrication process and a supporting slender-body hydrodynamics model. The swimmer consists of a polydimethylsiloxane filament with a short, rigid head and a long, slender tail on which cardiomyocytes are selectively cultured. The cardiomyocytes contract and deform the filament to propel the swimmer at 5-10 μms-1, consistent with model predictions. We then demonstrate a two-tailed swimmer swimming at 81 μms-1. This small-scale, elementary biohybrid swimmer can serve as a platform for more complex biological machines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3081
JournalNature communications
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 17 2014

Fingerprint

Flagella
low Reynolds number
Cardiac Myocytes
filaments
Reynolds number
spermatozoa
slender bodies
viscous drag
locomotion
microorganisms
Hydrodynamics
Locomotion
organisms
Microorganisms
microbalances
thrust
bacteria
Drag
Spermatozoa
Bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

A self-propelled biohybrid swimmer at low Reynolds number. / Williams, Brian J.; Anand, Sandeep V.; Rajagopalan, Jagannathan; Saif, M. Taher A.

In: Nature communications, Vol. 5, 3081, 17.01.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Williams, Brian J. ; Anand, Sandeep V. ; Rajagopalan, Jagannathan ; Saif, M. Taher A. / A self-propelled biohybrid swimmer at low Reynolds number. In: Nature communications. 2014 ; Vol. 5.
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