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Biomimetic Ratcheting Motion of a Soft, Slender, Sessile Gel

L. Mahadevan, S. Daniel and M. K. Chaudhury
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 101, No. 1 (Jan. 6, 2004), pp. 23-26
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3148366
Page Count: 4
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Biomimetic Ratcheting Motion of a Soft, Slender, Sessile Gel
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Abstract

Inspired by the locomotion of terrestrial limbless animals, we study the motion of a lubricated rod of a hydrogel on a soft substrate. We show that it is possible to mimic observed biological gaits by vibrating the substrate and by using a variety of mechanisms to break longitudinal and lateral symmetry. Our simple theory and experiments provide a unified view of the creeping, undulating, and inchworming gaits observed in limbless locomotion on land, all of which originate as symmetry-breaking bifurcations of a simple base state associated with periodic longitudinal oscillations of a slender gel. These ideas are therefore also applicable to technological situations that involve moving small, soft solids on substrates.

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