Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, 23:108 | Cite as

Viscoelastic propulsion of a rotating dumbbell

  • J. Amadeus Puente-Velázquez
  • Francisco A. Godínez
  • Eric Lauga
  • Roberto ZenitEmail author
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Particle motion in non-Newtonian microfluidics


Viscoelastic fluids impact the locomotion of swimming microorganisms and can be harnessed to devise new types of self-propelling devices. Here we report on experiments demonstrating the use of normal stress differences for propulsion. Rigid dumbbells are rotated by an external magnetic field along their axis of symmetry in a Boger fluid. When the dumbbell is asymmetric (snowman geometry), non-Newtonian normal stress differences lead to net propulsion in the direction of the smaller sphere. The use of a simple model allows to rationalise the experimental results and to predict the dependence of the snowman swimming speed on the size ratio between the two spheres.


Viscoelasticity Non-Newtonian Particle motion Low-Re locomotion 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones en MaterialesUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de IngenieríaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM, C.U.Mexico CityMexico
  3. 3.Polo Universitario de Tecnología AvanzadaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoApodacaMexico
  4. 4.Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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