Low-Reynolds-number, biflagellated Quincke swimmers with multiple forms of motion

Endao Han, Lailai Zhu, Joshua W. Shaevitz, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In the limit of zero Reynolds number (Re), swimmers propel themselves exploiting a series of nonreciprocal body motions. For an artificial swimmer, a proper selection of the power source is required to drive its motion, in cooperation with its geometric and mechanical properties. Although various external fields (magnetic, acoustic, optical, etc.) have been introduced, electric fields are rarely utilized to actuate such swimmers experimentally in unbounded space. Here we use uniform and static electric fields to demonstrate locomotion of a biflagellated sphere at low Re via Quincke rotation. These Quincke swimmers exhibit three different forms of motion, including a self-oscillatory state due to elastohydrodynamic–electrohydrodynamic interactions. Each form of motion follows a distinct trajectory in space. Our experiments and numerical results demonstrate a method to generate, and potentially control, the locomotion of artificial flagellated swimmers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022000118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 20 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Low-Reynolds-number swimmer | Quincke rotation | motility


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