Spontaneous Synchronization of Beating Cilia: An Experimental Proof Using Vision-Based Control

Elshalakani, M. & Bruecker, C. (2018). Spontaneous Synchronization of Beating Cilia: An Experimental Proof Using Vision-Based Control. Fluids, 3(2), 30.. doi: 10.3390/fluids3020030

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This article investigates the formation of spontaneous coordination in a row of flexible 2D flaps (artificial cilia) in a chamber filled with a high viscous liquid (Re = 0.12). Each flap is driven individually to oscillate by a rotary motor with the root of the flap attached to its spindle axle. A computer-vision control loop tracks the flap tips online and toggles the axle rotation direction when the tips reach a pre-defined maximum excursion. This is a vision-controlled implementation of the so-called “geometric clutch” hypothesis. When running the control loop with the flaps in an inviscid reference situation (air), they remain in their individual phases for a long term. Then, the flaps are studied in the chamber filled with a highly viscous liquid, and the same control loop is started. The flexible flaps now undergo bending due to hydrodynamic coupling and come, after a maximum of 15 beats, into a synchronous metachronal coordination. The study proves in a macroscopic lab experiment that viscous coupling is sufficient to achieve spontaneous synchronization, even for a symmetric cilia shape and beat pattern.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: metachronal wave; beating cilia; self-synchronization; geometric clutch hypothesis; viscous coupling; hydrodynamic interaction
Divisions: School of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences > Engineering
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/19681

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