Mosquito Traps and Wombat Poo (David Hu) – 12/06/2022

Elastohydrodynamic scaling law for heart rates

Animal hearts are soft shells that actively pump blood to oxygenate tissues. Here, we propose an allometric scaling law for the heart rate based on the idea of elastohydrodynamic resonance of a fluid-loaded soft active elastic shell that buckles and contracts axially when twisted periodically. We show that this picture is consistent with numerical simulations of soft cylindrical shells that twist-buckle while pumping a viscous fluid, yielding optimum ejection fractions of 35%–40% when driven resonantly. Our scaling law is consistent with experimental measurements of heart rates over 2 orders of magnitude, and provides a mechanistic basis for how metabolism scales with organism size. In addition to providing a physical rationale for the heart rate and metabolism of an organism, our results suggest a simple design principle for soft fluidic pumps.

Self-excited motions of volatile drops on swellable sheets

When a volatile droplet is deposited on a floating swellable sheet, it becomes asymmetric, lobed and mobile. We describe and quantify this phenomena that involves nonequilibrium swelling, evaporation and motion, working together to realize a self-excitable spatially extended oscillator. Solvent penetration causes the film to swell locally and eventually buckle, changing its shape and the drop responds by moving. Simultaneously, solvent evaporation from the swollen film causes it to regain its shape once the droplet has moved away. The process repeats and leads to complex pulsatile spinning and/or sliding movements. We use a one-dimensional experiment to highlight the slow swelling of and evaporation from the film and the fast motion of the drop, a characteristic of excitable systems. Finally, we provide a phase diagram for droplet excitability as a function of drop size and film thickness and scaling laws for the motion of the droplet.

Suspension Jams in a Leaky Microfluidic Channel

Inspired by the jamming in leaky systems that arises in many physiological and industrial settings, we study the propagation of clogs in a leaky microfluidic channel. By driving a colloidal suspension through such a channel with a fluid-permeable wall adjoining a gutter, we follow the formation and propagation of jams and show that they move at a steady speed, in contrast with jams in channels that have impermeable walls. Furthermore, by varying the ratio of the resistance from the leaky wall and that of the gutter, we show that it is possible to control the shape of the propagating jam, which is typically wedge shaped. We complement our experiments with numerical simulations, where we implement an Euler-Lagrangian framework for the simultaneous evolution of both immersed colloidal particles and the carrier fluid. Finally, we show that the particle ordering in the clog can be tuned by adjusting the geometry of the leaky wall. Altogether, the leaky channel serves both as a filter and a shunt with the potential for a range of uses.

Early warning signals in motion inference

The ability to infer intention lies at the basis of many social interactions played out via motor actions. We consider a simple paradigm of this ability in humans using data from experiments simulating an antagonistic game between an Attacker and a Blocker. Evidence shows early inference of an Attacker move by as much as 100ms but the nature of the informational cues signaling the impending move remains unknown. We show that the transition to action has the hallmark of a critical transition that is accompanied by early warning signals. These early warning signals occur as much as 130 ms before motion ensues—showing a sharp rise in motion autocorrelation at lag-1 and a sharp rise in the autocorrelation decay time. The early warning signals further correlate strongly with Blocker response times. We analyze the variance of the motion near the point of transition and find that it diverges in a manner consistent with the dynamics of a fold-transition. To test if humans can recognize and act upon these early warning signals, we simulate the dynamics of fold-transition events and ask people to recognize the onset of directional motion: participants react faster to fold-transition dynamics than to its uncorrelated counterpart. Together, our findings suggest that people can recognize the intent and onset of motion by inferring its early warning signals.

Mechanics and kinetics of dynamic instability

During dynamic instability, self-assembling microtubules (MTs) stochastically alternate between phases of growth and shrinkage. This process is driven by the presence of two distinct states of MT subunits, GTP- and GDP-bound tubulin dimers, that have different structural properties. Here, we use a combination of analysis and computer simulations to study the mechanical and kinetic regulation of dynamic instability in three-dimensional (3D) self-assembling MTs. Our model quantifies how the 3D structure and kinetics of the distinct states of tubulin dimers determine the mechanical stability of MTs. We further show that dynamic instability is influenced by the presence of quenched disorder in the state of the tubulin subunit as reflected in the fraction of non-hydrolysed tubulin. Our results connect the 3D geometry, kinetics and statistical mechanics of these tubular assemblies within a single framework, and may be applicable to other self-assembled systems where these same processes are at play.

Rotation of a submerged finite cylinder moving down a soft incline

A submerged finite cylinder moving under its own weight along a soft incline lifts off and slides at a steady velocity while also spinning. Here, we experimentally quantify the steady spinning of the cylinder and show theoretically that it is due to a combination of an elastohydrodynamic torque generated by flow in the variable gap, and the viscous friction on the edges of the finite-length cylinder. The relative influence of the latter depends on the aspect ratio of the cylinder, the angle of the incline, and the deformability of the substrate, which we express in terms of a single scaled compliance parameter. By independently varying these quantities, we show that our experimental results are consistent with a transition from an edge-effect dominated regime for short cylinders to a gap-dominated elastohydrodynamic regime when the cylinder is very long.

Deterministic and stochastic control of kirigami topology

Kirigami, the creative art of paper cutting, is a promising paradigm for mechanical metamaterials. However, to make kirigami-inspired structures a reality requires controlling the topology of kirigami to achieve connectivity and rigidity. We address this question by deriving the maximum number of cuts (minimum number of links) that still allow us to preserve global rigidity and connectivity of the kirigami. A deterministic hierarchical construction method yields an efficient topological way to control both the number of connected pieces and the total degrees of freedom. A statistical approach to the control of rigidity and connectivity in kirigami with random cuts complements the deterministic pathway, and shows that both the number of connected pieces and the degrees of freedom show percolation transitions as a function of the density of cuts (links). Together, this provides a general framework for the control of rigidity and connectivity in planar kirigami.

Poisson’s ratio and residual strain of freestanding ultra-thin films

The Poisson’s ratio and residual strain of ultra-thin films (<100 nm) are characterized using the phenomenon of transverse wrinkling in stretched bridges. The test methodology utilizes residual stress driven structures and easy to replicate clean-room fabrication and metrology techniques that can be seamlessly incorporated into a thin-film production assembly line. Freestanding rectangular ultra-thin film bridges are fabricated using dimensions that generate repeatable transverse wrinkling patterns. Numerical modeling based on the non-linear Koiter plate and shell energy formulation is conducted to correlate the Poisson’s ratio and residual strain to the measured wrinkling deformation. Poisson’s ratio affects the peak amplitudes without significantly changing the wavelength of the wrinkles. By contrast, the strain affects both the wavelength and amplitude. The proof of concept is demonstrated using 65 nm thick copper films. A Poisson’s ratio of 0.34 ± 0.05 and a tensile residual strain of

Biophysical principles of choanoflagellate self-organization

Inspired by the patterns of multicellularity in choanoflagellates, the closest living relatives of animals, we quantify the biophysical processes underlying the morphogenesis of rosette colonies in the choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta. We find that rosettes reproducibly transition from an early stage of 2-dimensional (2D) growth to a later stage of 3D growth, despite the underlying variability of the cell lineages. Our perturbative experiments demonstrate the fundamental importance of a basally secreted extracellular matrix (ECM) for rosette morphogenesis and show that the interaction of the ECM with cells in the colony physically constrains the packing of proliferating cells and, thus, controls colony shape. Simulations of a biophysically inspired model that accounts for the size and shape of the individual cells, the fraction of ECM, and its stiffness relative to that of the cells suffices to explain our observations and yields a morphospace consistent with observations across a range of multicellular choanoflagellate colonies. Overall, our biophysical perspective on rosette development complements previous genetic perspectives and, thus, helps illuminate the interplay between cell biology and physics in regulating morphogenesis.