Theoretical Perspectives on Natural and Artificial Micro-swimmers

Jinan Liu, Yiqiang Fu, Xiongjun Liu, Haihui Ruan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The observations of microorganisms revealed how they swim. As inspired by them, studies on artificial micro-robots with various actuation mechanisms have been thriving. To elucidate the essential concepts in understanding the dynamic behaviors of natural and artificial micro-swimmers—so as to control the latter in future applications, in this paper, we summarize the historical achievements and describe our theoretical perspectives. We first introduce the studies on microorganisms and their propulsion mechanisms. After reviewing the basic principles and the development of the understanding of them, we take the flagellated micro-swimmers as an example to elaborate on the theories of their locomotion. We review the progress in actuation strategies of artificial flagellated micro-swimmers and then propose two possible strategies to realize the turning of a flagellated micro-swimmer—the key step toward steerability through remote fields. Finally, we describe the inadequacies of the investigations on this topic and our perspectives on future developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-809
Number of pages27
JournalActa Mechanica Solida Sinica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Artificial micro-swimmer
  • External field actuation
  • Manipulation strategies
  • Natural micro-swimmer
  • Propulsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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