Miniaturized metachronal magnetic artificial cilia

Zhiwei Cui, Ye Wang, Shuaizhong Zhang, Tongsheng Wang, Jaap M.J. den Toonder (Corresponding author)

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Biological cilia, hairlike organelles on cell surfaces, often exhibit collective wavelike motion known as metachrony, which helps generating fluid flow. Inspired by nature, researchers have developed artificial cilia as microfluidic actuators, exploring several methods to mimic the metachrony. However, reported methods are difficult to miniaturize because they require either control of individual cilia properties or the generation of a complex external magnetic field. We introduce a concept that generates metachronal motion of magnetic artificial cilia (MAC), even though the MAC are all identical, and the applied external magnetic field is uniform. This is achieved by integrating a paramagnetic substructure in the substrate underneath the MAC. Uniquely, we can create both symplectic and antiplectic metachrony by changing the relative positions of MAC and substructure. We demonstrate the flow generation of the two metachronal motions in both high and low Reynolds number conditions. Our research marks a significant milestone by breaking the size limitation barrier in metachronal artificial cilia. This achievement not only showcases the potential of nature-inspired engineering but also opens up a host of exciting opportunities for designing and optimizing microsystems with enhanced fluid manipulation capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2304519120
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2023


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. This research was funded by the European Research Council Advanced Grant Bio-Plan project under grant agreement no. 833214. Z.C. is financially supported by the China Scholarship Council under grant no. 201706400061. S.Z. is financially supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

FundersFunder number
Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
European Research Council833214
China Scholarship Council201706400061


    • flow generation
    • magnetic artificial cilia (MAC)
    • metachronal motion
    • miniaturization
    • Motion
    • Cell Membrane
    • Magnetic Fields
    • Physical Phenomena
    • Cilia


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