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Biological and bio-inspired motility at microscopic scales: locomotion by shape control

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Biological and bio-inspired motility at microscopic scales: locomotion by shape control

Antonio DeSimone The BioRobotics Institute, Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy and MathLab, SISSA -International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy

Abstract Locomotion strategies employed by unicellular organism are a rich source of inspiration for studying mechanisms for shape control. In fact, in an overwhelming majority of cases, biological locomotion can be described as the result of the body pushing against the world, by using shape change. Motion is then a result Newton’s third and second law: the world reacts with a force that can be exploited by the body as a propulsive force, which puts the body into motion following the laws of mechanics. Strategies employed by unicellular organisms are particularly interesting because they are invisible to the naked eye, and offer surprising new solutions to the question of how shape can be controlled.

In recent years, we have studied locomotion by shape control using a variety of methods: modelling, theory, and numerical simulation [1-5], observations at the microscope [4,5], manufacturing of prototypes [3]. We will survey our recent findings within this stream of research.

References [1] Arroyo, M., Heltai, L., Milan, D., and DeSimone, A.: Reverse engineering the euglenoid movement, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA , 109, 17874-17879 (2012) [2] Arroyo, M., and DeSimone, A.: Shape control of active surfaces inspired by the movement of euglenids, J. Mech. Phys. Solids, 62, 99-112 (2014). [3] Noselli, G. and DeSimone, A.: A robotic crawler exploiting directional frictional interactions: Experiments, numerics and derivation of a reduced model, Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 470, 20140333 (2014). [4] Rossi, M., Cicconofri, G., Beran, A., Noselli, G. and DeSimone, A.: Kinematics of flagellar swimming in Euglena gracilis: Helical trajectories and flagellar shapes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA , doi:10.1073/pnas.1708064114 (2017) [5] Noselli, G, Beran, A., Arroyo, M., and DeSimone, A.: Metaboly and the mechanics of crawling motility in Euglena gracilis. In preparation (2018)

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Bio- and Micromechanics Seminars series.

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