Research ArticleBIOENGINEERING

Active micromachines: Microfluidics powered by mesoscale turbulence

Science Advances  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 7, e1501854
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501854

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Abstract

Dense active matter, from bacterial suspensions and microtubule bundles driven by motor proteins to cellular monolayers and synthetic Janus particles, is characterized by mesoscale turbulence, which is the emergence of chaotic flow structures. By immersing an ordered array of symmetric rotors in an active fluid, we introduce a microfluidic system that exploits spontaneous symmetry breaking in mesoscale turbulence to generate work. The lattice of rotors self-organizes into a spin state where neighboring discs continuously rotate in permanent alternating directions due to combined hydrodynamic and elastic effects. Our virtual prototype demonstrates a new research direction for the design of micromachines powered by the nematohydrodynamic properties of active turbulence.

Keywords
  • Mesoscale turbulence
  • active matter
  • microrotor array
  • self-organised spin-state
  • activity-powered micromachines
  • biological motors

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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