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Artificial bacterial flagella: Fabrication and magnetic control

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6 Author(s)
Zhang, Li ; Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, ETH Zurich, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland ; Abbott, J.J. ; Lixin Dong ; Kratochvil, B.E.
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Inspired by the natural design of bacterial flagella, we report artificial bacterial flagella (ABF) that have a comparable shape and size to their organic counterparts and can swim in a controllable fashion using weak applied magnetic fields. The helical swimmer consists of a helical tail resembling the dimensions of a natural flagellum and a thin soft-magnetic “head” on one end. The swimming locomotion of ABF is precisely controlled by three orthogonal electromagnetic coil pairs. Microsphere manipulation is performed, and the thrust force generated by an ABF is analyzed. ABF swimmers represent the first demonstration of microscopic artificial swimmers that use helical propulsion. Self-propelled devices such as these are of interest in fundamental research and for biomedical applications.

Published in:

Applied Physics Letters  (Volume:94 ,  Issue: 6 )