Skip to main content

Metachronal waves in magnetic micro-robotic paddles for artificial cilia

  • Bryan M
  • Martin E
  • Pac A
  • et al.
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.

This artice is free to access.


Biological cilia generate fluid movement within viscosity-dominated environments using beating motions that break time-reversal symmetry. This creates a metachronal wave, which enhances flow efficiency. Artificially mimicking this behaviour could improve microfluidic point-of-care devices, since viscosity-dominated fluid dynamics impede fluid flow and mixing of reagents, limiting potential for multiplexing diagnostic tests. However, current biomimicry schemes require either variation in the hydrodynamic response across a cilia array or a complex magnetic anisotropy configuration to synchronise the actuation sequence with the driving field. Here, we show that simple modifications to the structural design introduce phase differences between individual actuators, leading to the spontaneous formation of metachronal waves. This generates flow speeds of up to 16 μm/s as far as 675 μm above the actuator plane. By introducing metachronal waves through lithographic structuring, large scale manufacture becomes feasible. Additionally, by demonstrating that metachronal waves emerge from non-uniformity in internal structural mechanics, we offer fresh insight into the mechanics of cilia coordination.




Bryan, M. T., Martin, E. L., Pac, A., Gilbert, A. D., & Ogrin, F. Y. (2021). Metachronal waves in magnetic micro-robotic paddles for artificial cilia. Communications Materials, 2(1).

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free