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Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 16;8(1):4668. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22960-z.

Induced clustering of Escherichia coli by acoustic fields.

Author information

1
Laboratoire de Physique et Mécanique des Milieux Hétérogènes (PMMH UMR 7636) CNRS, ESPCI Paris, PSL Research University, Sorbonne Université, Université Paris Diderot, 10 rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris, France.
2
Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Unidad Monterrey, PIIT Autopista al Aeropuerto Km. 9.5, Apodaca, Nuevo León, 66600, Mexico.
3
Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Unidad Monterrey, PIIT Autopista al Aeropuerto Km. 9.5, Apodaca, Nuevo León, 66600, Mexico. jcrs.mty@gmail.com.

Abstract

Brownian or self-propelled particles in aqueous suspensions can be trapped by acoustic fields generated by piezoelectric transducers usually at frequencies in the megahertz. The obtained confinement allows the study of rich collective behaviours like clustering or spreading dynamics in microgravity-like conditions. The acoustic field induces the levitation of self-propelled particles and provides secondary lateral forces to capture them at nodal planes. Here, we give a step forward in the field of confined active matter, reporting levitation experiments of bacterial suspensions of Escherichia coli. Clustering of living bacteria is monitored as a function of time, where different behaviours are clearly distinguished. Upon the removal of the acoustic signal, bacteria rapidly spread, impelled by their own swimming. Nevertheless, long periods of confinement result in irreversible bacteria entanglements that could act as seeds for levitating bacterial aggregates.

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