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

Elshalakani, M. & Bruecker, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-5834-3020 (2018). Spontaneous Synchronization of Beating Cilia: An Experimental Proof Using Vision-Based Control. Fluids, 3(2), article number 30. doi: 10.3390/fluids3020030


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.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: metachronal wave; beating cilia; self-synchronization; geometric clutch hypothesis; viscous coupling; hydrodynamic interaction
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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