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Phys Rev Lett. 2008 Feb 22;100(7):078101. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

Shape transition and propulsive force of an elastic rod rotating in a viscous fluid.

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Division of Engineering, Box D, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


The deformation of an elastic rod rotating in a viscous fluid is considered, with applications related to flagellar motility. The rod is tilted relative to the rotation axis, and experiments and theory are used to study the shape transition when driven either at constant torque or at constant speed. At low applied torque, the rod bends gently and generates small propulsive force. At a critical torque, the rotation speed increases abruptly, and the rod forms a helical shape with increased propulsive force. We find good agreement between theory and experiment. A simple physical model is presented to capture and explain the essential behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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