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Nano-engineered living bacterial motors for active microfluidic mixing

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6 Author(s)
M. Al-Fandi ; Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan ; M. A. K. Jaradat ; K. Fandi ; J. P. Beech
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Active micromixers with rotating elements are attractive microfluidic actuators in many applications because of their mixing ability at a short distance. However, miniaturising the impeller design poses technical challenges including the fabrication and driving means. As a possible solution inspired by macro magnetic bar-stirrers, this study proposes the use of tethered, rotating bacteria as mixing elements. A tethered cell is a genetically engineered, harmless Escherichia coli (E. coli) attached to a surface by a single, shortened flagellum. The tethered flagellum acts as a pivot around which the entire cell body smoothly rotates. Videomicroscopy, image analysis and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) are utilised to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for the micro mixing process. Flow visualisation experiments show that a ~3~~m long tethered E. coli rotating at ~240~rpm can circulate a 1~~m polystyrene bead in the adjacent area at an average speed of nearly 4~~m/s. The Peclet (Peb) number for the stirred bead is evaluated to approximately 4. CFD simulations show that the rotary motion of a tethered E. coli rotating at 240 rpm can generate fluid velocities, up to 37 m/s bordering the cell envelop. Based on these simulations, the Strouhal number (St) is calculated to about 2. This hybrid bio-inorganic micromxer could be used as a local, disposable mixer.

Published in:

IET Nanobiotechnology  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 3 )