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Magnetic Control of Biologically Inspired Robotic Microswimmers

[+] Author Affiliations
U. Kei Cheang, Paul Kim, Min Jun Kim

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Jun Hee Lee

Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials, Daejeon, Korea

Paper No. AJK2011-19014, pp. 2043-2048; 6 pages
  • ASME-JSME-KSME 2011 Joint Fluids Engineering Conference
  • ASME-JSME-KSME 2011 Joint Fluids Engineering Conference: Volume 1, Symposia – Parts A, B, C, and D
  • Hamamatsu, Japan, July 24–29, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4440-3
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Bacterial flagella have been employed as nanoactuators for biomimetic microswimmers in low Reynolds number fluidic environments. The microswimmer is a dumbbell-like swimmer that utilizes flagellar hydrodynamics to achieve spiral-type swimming. Flagellar filaments from Salmonella typhimurium are harnessed and functionalized in order to serve as couplers for polystyrene (PS) microbeads and magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) using avidin-biotin chemistry. The MNP have an iron oxide core that will allow us to actuate the microswimmer under a rotating magnetic field. Using a micromanufacturing process, microswimmer of different configurations can be created to mimic mono- and multi-flagellated bacteria. A magnetic control system consists of electromagnetic coils arranged in an approximate Helmholtz configuration was designed, constructed, and characterized. In conjunction with a LabVIEW input interface, a DAQ controller was used as a function generator to generate sinusoidal waveforms to the power supplies. AC current outputs were supplied from the power supplies to the coils in order to generate a rotating magnetic field. A rotating magnetic field will induce rotation in the flagella conjugated MNP which in term will rotate the flagellar filament into a spiral configuration and achieve propulsion, as in polarly-flagellated bacteria. A high-speed camera provided real-time imaging of the microswimmer motion in a static fluidic environment inside a closed PDMS (Polydimethylsiloxane) chamber. The microswimmers exhibited flagellar propulsion in a low Reynolds number fluidic environment under a rotating magnetic field, which demonstrates its potential for biomedical applications.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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