Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 14, 2021

Propulsion of an elastic filament in a shear-thinning fluid

Author affiliations

Abstract

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.

Graphical abstract: Propulsion of an elastic filament in a shear-thinning fluid

Article information


Submitted
01 Dec 2020
Accepted
10 Feb 2021
First published
12 Feb 2021

Soft Matter, 2021,17, 3829-3839
Article type
Paper

Propulsion of an elastic filament in a shear-thinning fluid

K. Qin, Z. Peng, Y. Chen, H. Nganguia, L. Zhu and O. S. Pak, Soft Matter, 2021, 17, 3829 DOI: 10.1039/D0SM02130J

To request permission to reproduce material from this article, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements