Swimming in circles: Motion of bacteria near solid boundaries

Eric Lauga, Willow R. DiLuzio, George M. Whitesides, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

730 Scopus citations


Near a solid boundary, Escherichia coli swims in clockwise circular motion. We provide a hydrodynamic model for this behavior. We show that circular trajectories are natural consequences of force-free and torque-free swimming and the hydrodynamic interactions with the boundary, which also leads to a hydrodynamic trapping of the cells close to the surface. We compare the results of the model with experimental data and obtain reasonable agreement. In particular, the radius of curvature of the trajectory is observed to increase with the length of the bacterium body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-412
Number of pages13
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics


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