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Propulsion of an elastic filament in a shear-thinning fluid

Qin, Ke and Peng, Zhiwei and Chen, Ye and Nganguia, Herve and Zhu, Lailai and Pak, On Shun (2021) Propulsion of an elastic filament in a shear-thinning fluid. Soft Matter, 17 (14). pp. 3829-3839. ISSN 1744-683X. doi:10.1039/d0sm02130j.

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Some micro-organisms and artificial micro-swimmers propel at low Reynolds numbers (Re) via the interaction of their flexible appendages with the surrounding fluid. While their locomotion has been extensively studied with a Newtonian fluid assumption, in realistic biological environments these micro-swimmers invariably encounter rheologically complex fluids. In particular, many biological fluids such as blood and different types of mucus have shear-thinning viscosities. The influence of this ubiquitous non-Newtonian rheology on the performance of flexible swimmers remains largely unknown. Here, we present a first study to examine how shear-thinning rheology alters the fluid-structure interaction and hence the propulsion performance of elastic swimmers at low Re. Via a simple elastic swimmer actuated magnetically, we demonstrate that shear-thinning rheology can either enhance or hinder elastohydrodynamic propulsion, depending on the intricate interplay between elastic and viscous forces as well as the magnetic actuation. We also use a reduced-order model to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the enhanced and hindered propulsion observed in different physical regimes. These results and improved understanding could guide the design of flexible micro-swimmers in non-Newtonian fluids.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Qin, Ke0000-0002-6503-555X
Peng, Zhiwei0000-0002-9486-2837
Nganguia, Herve0000-0002-2107-2754
Zhu, Lailai0000-0002-3443-0709
Pak, On Shun0000-0003-1510-7049
Additional Information:© 2021 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Submitted 01 Dec 2020; Accepted 10 Feb 2021; First published 12 Feb 2021. O. S. P. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (Grant Numbers 1931292 and 1830958). L. Z. acknowledges the start-up grant (R-265-000-696-133) from the National University of Singapore. Computational resources from the WAVE computing facility (enabled by the Wiegand Foundation) at Santa Clara University and the National Supercomputing Centre, Singapore are also gratefully acknowledged. There are no conflicts to declare.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National University of SingaporeR-265-000-696-133
Issue or Number:14
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210405-083005811
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Propulsion of an elastic filament in a shear-thinning fluid. Soft Matter, 2021, 17, 3829-3839; DOI: 10.1039/d0sm02130j
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108617
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Apr 2021 01:15
Last Modified:19 Apr 2021 18:22

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