THAMPI, S.P. ... et al., 2016. Active micromachines: Microfluidics powered by mesoscale turbulence. Science Advances, 2(7): e1501854.
Dense active matter, from bacterial suspensions and microtubule bundles driven by motor proteins to cellular
monolayers and synthetic Janus particles, is characterized by mesoscale turbulence, which is the emergence of
chaotic flow structures. By immersing an ordered array of symmetric rotors in an active fluid, we introduce a microfluidic
system that exploits spontaneous symmetry breaking in mesoscale turbulence to generate work. The lattice
of rotors self-organizes into a spin state where neighboring discs continuously rotate in permanent alternating
directions due to combined hydrodynamic and elastic effects. Our virtual prototype demonstrates a new research
direction for the design of micromachines powered by the nematohydrodynamic properties of active turbulence.
This is an Open Access Article. It is published by American Association for the Advancement of Science under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
This work was funded by ERC Advanced Grant 291234 MiCE and was supported by EMBO funding
to T.N.S. (ALTF181-2013)