Harnessing bacteria to move microscopic gears and ratchets
Computer simulations at OIST suggest new applications in industry by harnessing active microscopic particles in fluids. Previous research has already demonstrated that substantial quantities of self-motile or active agents such as bacteria in a fluid environment can be harnessed to do mechanical work like moving microscopic gears and ratchets. Bacteria as well as algae can also be used to transport or displace matter in fluidic environments.
The new research recently published by scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in the journal Soft Matter carefully examines the relationships between self-motile and passive or inert agents to determine possibility of creating fully synthetic systems by looking into examples of biology interacting with mechanical mechanisms. Denis F. Hinz and Professor Eliot Fried of the OIST Mathematical Soft Matter Unit created the necessary models and investigated how such mixtures can work to achieve desired effects.
Denis F. Hinz, Alexander Panchenko, Tae-Yeon Kim, Eliot Fried. Motility versus fluctuations in mixtures of self-motile and passive agents. Soft Matter, 2014; 10 (45): 9082 DOI: 10.1039/C4SM01562B
The three distinct flow pattern phases found through computer simulations by Denis F. Hinz and Eliot Fried at OIST are shown. From left to right, mesoturbulant, polar flock and voritcal are visualized. Credit: OIST