Microscopic artificial swimmers

Rémi Dreyfus, Jean Baudry, Marcus L. Roper, Marc Fermigier, Howard A. Stone, Jérôme Bibette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1157 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-865
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume437
Issue number7060
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 6 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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    Dreyfus, R., Baudry, J., Roper, M. L., Fermigier, M., Stone, H. A., & Bibette, J. (2005). Microscopic artificial swimmers. Nature, 437(7060), 862-865. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04090