Optimizing Low Reynolds Number Locomotion

Peko Hosoi
MIT Mechanical Engineering

In this talk I will discuss two optimization topics related to low
Reynolds number locomotion: optimal stroke patterns in linked
swimmers and optimal fluid material properties in adhesive
locomotion. In the first case, we begin by optimizing stroke patterns
for Purcell's 3-link swimmer modeled as a jointed chain of three
slender links moving in an inertialess flow. We then go on to
investigate uniflagellate and biflagellate organisms and compare the
optimized results to biological data. In the second case, we analyze
adhesive locomotion used by common gastropods such as snails and
slugs. Such organisms crawl on a solid substrate by propagating
muscular waves of shear stress on a viscoelastic mucus. Using a
simple mechanical model, we derive criteria for favorable fluid
material properties to lower the energetic cost of locomotion.