Designing Synthetic Self-Oscillating Cilia Using Active Polymer Gels

Thursday, November 11, 2010: 3:15 PM
250 C Room (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Pratyush Dayal, Olga Kuksenok and Anna C. Balazs, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Using theory and simulations, we model the dynamic behavior of synthetic cilia made from soft, active materials. In designing this system we harness the properties of polymer gels that undergo self-oscillating Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. Driven by the periodic reduction and oxidation of the BZ catalyst that is grafted on the polymer backbone, these BZ gels undergo rhythmic swelling and de-swelling by chemo-mechanical transduction. When these BZ gels are tethered to a substrate they form cilia which can pulsate autonomously in response to the BZ reaction. In order to simulate the response of the BZ cilia in a surrounding fluid we have developed a nonlinear 3D model which captures the effect of diffusion of BZ reagents both to and from the fluid, hydrodynamics and fluid-structure interactions. Specifically, we use 3D Gel Lattice Spring Model for the cilium and Lattice Boltzmann methods for the fluid. Using this approach we determine the factors which govern bending and beating of the individual cilium. Our findings provide guidelines for designing micro-fluidic devices that can replicate biomimetic functionality.

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