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Portrait of Jonas Tegenfeldt. Photo: Kennet Ruona

Jonas Tegenfeldt

Professor, Coordinator Nanobiology & Neuronanoscience

Portrait of Jonas Tegenfeldt. Photo: Kennet Ruona

Nano-engineered living bacterial motors for active microfluidic mixing.


  • M Al-Fandi
  • M A K Jaradat
  • K Fandi
  • Jason Beech
  • Jonas Tegenfeldt
  • T C Yih

Summary, in English

Active micromixers with rotating elements are attractive microfluidic actuators in many applications because of their mixing ability at a short distance. However, miniaturising the impeller design poses technical challenges including the fabrication and driving means. As a possible solution inspired by macro magnetic bar-stirrers, this study proposes the use of tethered, rotating bacteria as mixing elements. A tethered cell is a genetically engineered, harmless Escherichia coli (E. coli) attached to a surface by a single, shortened flagellum. The tethered flagellum acts as a pivot around which the entire cell body smoothly rotates. Videomicroscopy, image analysis and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) are utilised to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for the micro mixing process. Flow visualisation experiments show that a approximately 3 [micro sign]m long tethered E. coli rotating at approximately 240 rpm can circulate a 1 [micro sign]m polystyrene bead in the adjacent area at an average speed of nearly 4 [micro sign]m/s. The Peclet (Pe(b)) number for the stirred bead is evaluated to approximately 4. CFD simulations show that the rotary motion of a tethered E. coli rotating at 240 rpm can generate fluid velocities, up to 37 [micro sign]m/s bordering the cell envelop. Based on these simulations, the Strouhal number (St) is calculated to about 2. This hybrid bio-inorganic micromxer could be used as a local, disposable mixer.


  • Solid State Physics

Publishing year







IET Nanobiotechnology





Document type

Journal article


Institution of Engineering and Technology


  • Condensed Matter Physics




  • ISSN: 1751-875X