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Towards hybrid swimming microrobots: bacteria assisted propulsion of polystyrene beads.

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Dept. of Mech. Eng., Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Compactness and efficiency of biomotors makes them superior to man-made actuators and a very attractive choice of actuation for micro/nanorobots. However, biomotors are difficult to work with due to complications associated with their isolation and reconstitution. To circumvent this problem, here we use flagellar motors inside the intact cell of S. marcescens bacteria. An array of bacteria is used as propeller for a 10 microm polystyrene (PS) bead. PS bead is tracked for several seconds and its displacements is compared with diffusion length of a 10 microm particle. It is shown that the bead moves with an average velocity of 17 microm/s. Orientation of adhesion of S. marcescens to polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) chips and microscale PS fibers was also investigated. It is shown that for both substrates; only bacteria from farther behind the leading edge of the swarm adhere in end-on configuration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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