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Issue 19, 2014
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Magnetic steering control of multi-cellular bio-hybrid microswimmers

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Bio-hybrid devices, which integrate biological cells with synthetic components, have opened a new path in miniaturized systems with the potential to provide actuation and control for systems down to a few microns in size. Here, we address the challenge of remotely controlling bio-hybrid microswimmers propelled by multiple bacterial cells. These devices have been proposed as a viable method for targeted drug delivery but have also been shown to exhibit stochastic motion. We demonstrate a method of remote magnetic control that significantly reduces the stochasticity of the motion, enabling steering control. The demonstrated microswimmers consist of multiple Serratia marcescens (S. marcescens) bacteria attached to a 6 μm-diameter superparamagnetic bead. We characterize their motion and define the parameters governing their controllability. We show that the microswimmers can be controlled along two-dimensional (2-D) trajectories using weak magnetic fields (≤10 mT) and can achieve 2-D swimming speeds up to 7.3 μm s−1. This magnetic steering approach can be integrated with sensory-based steering in future work, enabling new control strategies for bio-hybrid microsystems.

Graphical abstract: Magnetic steering control of multi-cellular bio-hybrid microswimmers

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The article was received on 17 Jun 2014, accepted on 11 Aug 2014 and first published on 11 Aug 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4LC00707G
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Citation: Lab Chip, 2014,14, 3850-3859
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    Magnetic steering control of multi-cellular bio-hybrid microswimmers

    R. W. Carlsen, M. R. Edwards, J. Zhuang, C. Pacoret and M. Sitti, Lab Chip, 2014, 14, 3850
    DOI: 10.1039/C4LC00707G

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