Helical propulsion is used by many micro-organisms to swim in viscous-dominated environments. Their swimming dynamics are relatively well understood, but a detailed study of the flow fields is still needed to understand wall effects and hydrodynamic interactions among swimmers. In this letter, we describe the development of an autonomous swimming robot with a helical tail that operates in the Stokes regime. The device uses a battery-based power system with a miniature motor that imposes a rotational speed on a helical tail. The speed, direction, and activation are controlled electronically using an infrared remote control. Since the robot is about 5 cm long, we use highly viscous fluids to match the Reynolds number, Re, to be less than 0.1. Measurements of swimming speeds are conducted for a range of helical wavelengths, λ, head geometries, and rotation rates, ω. We provide comparisons of the experimental measurements with analytical predictions derived from resistive force theory. This force and torque-free neutrally buoyant swimmer mimics the swimming strategy of bacteria more closely than previously used designs and offers a lot of potential for future applications.
Force and torque-free helical tail robot to study low Reynolds number micro-organism swimming
Asimanshu Das, Matthew Styslinger, Daniel M. Harris, Roberto Zenit; Force and torque-free helical tail robot to study low Reynolds number micro-organism swimming. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 1 April 2022; 93 (4): 044103. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0079815
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