Programmable metachronal motion of closely packed magnetic artificial cilia

Tongsheng Wang, Tanveer ul Islam, Erik Steur, Tess Homan, Ishu Aggarwal, Patrick R. Onck, Jaap M.J. den Toonder, Ye Wang (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Despite recent advances in artificial cilia technologies, the application of metachrony, which is the collective wavelike motion by cilia moving out-of-phase, has been severely hampered by difficulties in controlling closely packed artificial cilia at micrometer length scales. Moreover, there has been no direct experimental proof yet that a metachronal wave in combination with fully reciprocal ciliary motion can generate significant microfluidic flow on a micrometer scale as theoretically predicted. In this study, using an in-house developed precise micro-molding technique, we have fabricated closely packed magnetic artificial cilia that can generate well-controlled metachronal waves. We studied the effect of pure metachrony on fluid flow by excluding all symmetry-breaking ciliary features. Experimental and simulation results prove that net fluid transport can be generated by metachronal motion alone, and the effectiveness is strongly dependent on cilia spacing. This technique not only offers a biomimetic experimental platform to better understand the mechanisms underlying metachrony, it also opens new pathways towards advanced industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1585
Number of pages13
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number6
Early online date24 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


The authors acknowledge the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme no. 833214 and no. 953234, ACD project, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology. The authors would like to thank Martijn Kuijpers for helping with the development of the 1DOF analytical model and the Equipment and Prototyping Center of TU/e for fabrication of the actuation setup.

FundersFunder number
European Union 's Horizon 2020 - Research and Innovation Framework Programme833214, 953234
Eindhoven University of Technology


    • Motion
    • Magnetic Phenomena
    • Computer Simulation
    • Magnetics
    • Cilia


    Dive into the research topics of 'Programmable metachronal motion of closely packed magnetic artificial cilia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this