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Behavior of Magnetic Microswimmers : Simulations for Natural Swimmers and Synthetic Propellers


Codutti,  Agnese
Damien Faivre, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Codutti, A. (2018). Behavior of Magnetic Microswimmers: Simulations for Natural Swimmers and Synthetic Propellers. PhD Thesis, Universität Potsdam, Potsdam.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-444E-A
Microswimmers, i.e. swimmers of micron size experiencing low Reynolds numbers, have received a great deal of attention in the last years, since many applications are envisioned in medicine and bioremediation. A promising field is the one of magnetic swimmers, since magnetism is biocom-patible and could be used to direct or actuate the swimmers. This thesis studies two examples of magnetic microswimmers from a physics point of view. The first system to be studied are magnetic cells, which can be magnetic biohybrids (a swimming cell coupled with a magnetic synthetic component) or magnetotactic bacteria (naturally occurring bacteria that produce an intracellular chain of magnetic crystals). A magnetic cell can passively interact with external magnetic fields, which can be used for direction. The aim of the thesis is to understand how magnetic cells couple this magnetic interaction to their swimming strategies, mainly how they combine it with chemotaxis (the ability to sense external gradient of chemical species and to bias their walk on these gradients). In particular, one open question addresses the advantage given by these magnetic interactions for the magnetotactic bacteria in a natural environment, such as porous sediments. In the thesis, a modified Active Brownian Particle model is used to perform simulations and to reproduce experimental data for different systems such as bacteria swimming in the bulk, in a capillary or in confined geometries. I will show that magnetic fields speed up chemotaxis under special conditions, depending on parameters such as their swimming strategy (run-and-tumble or run-and-reverse), aerotactic strategy (axial or polar), and magnetic fields (intensities and orientations), but it can also hinder bacterial chemotaxis depending on the system. The second example of magnetic microswimmer are rigid magnetic propellers such as helices or random-shaped propellers. These propellers are actuated and directed by an external rotating magnetic field. One open question is how shape and magnetic properties influence the propeller behavior; the goal of this research field is to design the best propeller for a given situation. The aim of the thesis is to propose a simulation method to reproduce the behavior of experimentally-realized propellers and to determine their magnetic properties. The hydrodynamic simulations are based on the use of the mobility matrix. As main result, I propose a method to match the experimental data, while showing that not only shape but also the magnetic properties influence the propellers swimming characteristics.