Breaking of symmetry in microfluidic propulsion driven by artificial cilia

S. N. Khaderi, M. G. H. M. Baltussen, P. D. Anderson, J.M.J. den Toonder, P. R. Onck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
450 Downloads (Pure)


In this Brief Report we investigate biomimetic fluid propulsion due to an array of periodically beating artificial cilia. A generic model system is defined in which the effects of inertial fluid forces and the spatial, temporal, and orientational asymmetries of the ciliary motion can be individually controlled. We demonstrate that the so-far unexplored orientational asymmetry plays an important role in generating flow and that the flow increases sharply with Reynolds number and eventually becomes unidirectional. We introduce the concept of configurational symmetry that unifies the spatial, temporal, and orientational symmetries. The breaking of configurational symmetry leads to fluid propulsion in microfluidic channels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number027302
Pages (from-to)027302-1-027302-4
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25-Aug-2010



Cite this