Periodic oscillations in a string of camphor infused disks†
The rhythmic beating motion of autonomously motile filaments has many practical applications. Here, we present an experimental study on a filament made of camphor infused paper disks, stitched together adjacent to each other using nylon thread. The filament displays spontaneous translatory motion when it is placed on the surface of water due to the surface tension gradients created by camphor molecules on the water surface. When this filament is clamped on one end, we obtain regular oscillatory motion instead of translation. The filament shows qualitatively different dynamics at different activity levels, which is controlled by the amount of camphor infused into the paper disks. For a better physical understanding of the filament dynamics, we develop a minimal numerical model involving a semi-flexible filament made of active polar disks, where the polarity is coupled to the instantaneous velocity of the particle. This model qualitatively reproduces different oscillatory modes of the filament. Moreover, our model reveals a rich dynamical state diagram of the system, as a function of filament activity and the coupling strength.