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Shear-thinning effects on microswimmers

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An important environmental factor impacting cell motility is the rheology of the surrounding fluid. Mammalian sperm must progress through physiological mucus, a suspension of polymers that twist, writhe and align with flow. These polymers endow mucus with rheological properties that affect sperms’ ability to penetrate. Using the method of femlets, a new finite element technique entailing an immersed force representation, I will present novel physical mechanisms through which shear-thinning, an important property of physiological mucus affects microscopic swimmers. In particular, I will show that these effects are sensitive to the swimming stroke employed, and present example reciprocal swimmers that violate Purcell’s ``Scallop Theorem’‘

This talk is part of the Fluid Mechanics (DAMTP) series.

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