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Small. 2008 Jan;4(1):111-8.

Microfluidic pump powered by self-organizing bacteria.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Results are presented that demonstrate the successful use of live bacteria as mechanical actuators in microfabricated fluid systems. The flow deposition of bacteria is used to create a motile bacterial carpet that can generate local fluid motion inside a microfabricated system. By tracking the motion of tracer particles, we demonstrate that the bacterial cells that comprise the carpet self-organize, generating a collective fluid motion that can pump fluid autonomously through a microfabricated channel at speeds as high as 25 microm s(-1). The pumping performance of the system can also be augmented by changing the chemical environment. The addition of glucose to the working buffer raises the metabolic activity of the bacterial carpet, resulting in increased pumping performance. The performance of the bacterial pump is also shown to be strongly influenced by the global geometry of the pump, with narrower channels achieving a higher pumping velocity with a faster rise time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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