Hydrodynamics of swimming microorganisms


Eric Lauga

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

University of California, San Diego

    Hydrodynamics plays a crucial role in many cellular processes. One example is the locomotion of cells such as bacteria, spermatozoa, and essentially half of the microorganisms on earth. These organisms typically possess flagella, slender whiplike appendages which are actuated in a periodic fashion in a fluid environment, thereby giving rise to propulsion. Motivated by recent experimental data, we consider in this talk three problems on the nonlinear hydrodynamics of swimming cells. We first address the observed flagellar synchronization between eukaryotic cells swimming in close proximity. We then discuss the locomotion of cells in complex (polymeric) fluids. We finally explain why cells swimming in confined environments are attracted to nearby boundaries. We conclude by a quick overview of other research activities in mechanics in our group.