The Physics and Engineering of Bacteria Motility

Kenny Breuer, Division of Engineering, Brown University

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spanos Auditorium

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This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

Many biological systems are characterized by the motion of long, thin flexible filaments immersed in the surrounding viscous fluid. These flagella are utilized for propulsion by flagellated bacteria as well as for nutrient absorption, acoustic transduction and countless other biological applications. Many of these biological examples provide inspiration for engineered microsystems including microrobotics and devices for microfluidic mixing and pumping. Drawing from both experimental and theoretical studies, we will discuss aspects of the physics of flagellar mechanics, including (i) the physics of flagellar bundling (ii) the synchronization of multiple flagella due to hydrodynamic interactions and (iii) the elastic instabilities of flagella subject to viscous stresses. We will also discuss some engineered systems that use flagellar motion, including devices for mixing and pumping in microfluidic systems as well as microrobotic devices powered by flagellar motion.

About the Speaker

Kenny Breuer received his ScB from Brown and his MSc and Ph.D. from MIT. He spent nine years on the faculty of MIT in the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, before returning to Brown in 1999. His research interests are in Fluid Mechanics covering a wide range of topics, including the physics of flows at micron and nanometer scales, the physics and control of turbulent flows and flows associated with animal flight, in particular bats. He is author of over one hundred refereed technical publications, has edited and co-authored several books, including Microscale Diagnostic Techniques, A Gallery of Fluid Motion and Multimedia Fluid Mechanics.