Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Fluid


Small-diameter (<4 mm) vascular constructs are urgently needed for patients requiring replacement of their peripheral vessels. However, successful development of constructs remains a significant challenge. In this study, we successfully developed small-diameter vascular constructs with high patency using our integrally designed computer-controlled bioreactor system. This computer-controlled bioreactor system can confer physiological mechanical stimuli and fluid flow similar to physiological stimuli to the cultured grafts. The medium circulating system optimizes the culture conditions by maintaining fixed concentration of O(2) and CO(2) in the medium flow and constant delivery of nutrients and waste metabolites, as well as eliminates the complicated replacement of culture medium in traditional vascular tissue engineering. Biochemical and mechanical assay of newly developed grafts confirm the feasibility of the bioreactor system for small-diameter vascular engineering. Furthermore, the computer-controlled bioreactor is superior for cultured cell proliferation compared with the traditional non-computer-controlled bioreactor. Specifically, our novel bioreactor system may be a potential alternative for tissue engineering of large-scale small-diameter vascular vessels for clinical use.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Cell culture, Engineering, Fluid, Design, The Culture, Chemical engineering, Bioreactor


Microactuation of free standing objects in fluids is currently dominated by the rotary propeller, giving rise to a range of potential applications in the military, aeronautic and biomedical fields. Previously, surface acoustic waves (SAWs) have been shown to be of increasing interest in the field of microfluidics, where the refraction of a SAW into a drop of fluid creates a convective flow, a phenomenon generally known as SAW streaming. We now show how SAWs, generated at microelectronic devices, can be used as an efficient method of propulsion actuated by localised fluid streaming. The direction of the force arising from such streaming is optimal when the devices are maintained at the Rayleigh angle. The technique provides propulsion without any moving parts, and, due to the inherent design of the SAW transducer, enables simple control of the direction of travel.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Fluid dynamics, Fluid mechanics, Liquid, Wave, Fluid, Field, Surface acoustic wave


Dense active matter, from bacterial suspensions and microtubule bundles driven by motor proteins to cellular monolayers and synthetic Janus particles, is characterized by mesoscale turbulence, which is the emergence of chaotic flow structures. By immersing an ordered array of symmetric rotors in an active fluid, we introduce a microfluidic system that exploits spontaneous symmetry breaking in mesoscale turbulence to generate work. The lattice of rotors self-organizes into a spin state where neighboring discs continuously rotate in permanent alternating directions due to combined hydrodynamic and elastic effects. Our virtual prototype demonstrates a new research direction for the design of micromachines powered by the nematohydrodynamic properties of active turbulence.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Symmetry, Group, Fluid, Standard Model, Symmetry group, Spontaneous symmetry breaking, Higgs mechanism


Soft robots possess many attributes that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with conventional robots composed of rigid materials. Yet, despite recent advances, soft robots must still be tethered to hard robotic control systems and power sources. New strategies for creating completely soft robots, including soft analogues of these crucial components, are needed to realize their full potential. Here we report the untethered operation of a robot composed solely of soft materials. The robot is controlled with microfluidic logic that autonomously regulates fluid flow and, hence, catalytic decomposition of an on-board monopropellant fuel supply. Gas generated from the fuel decomposition inflates fluidic networks downstream of the reaction sites, resulting in actuation. The body and microfluidic logic of the robot are fabricated using moulding and soft lithography, respectively, and the pneumatic actuator networks, on-board fuel reservoirs and catalytic reaction chambers needed for movement are patterned within the body via a multi-material, embedded 3D printing technique. The fluidic and elastomeric architectures required for function span several orders of magnitude from the microscale to the macroscale. Our integrated design and rapid fabrication approach enables the programmable assembly of multiple materials within this architecture, laying the foundation for completely soft, autonomous robots.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Fluid, Robotics, Robot, Autonomous robot, Humanoid robot, Pneumatics, Evolutionary robotics


Phase-change materials, such as meta-stable undercooled (supercooled) liquids, have been widely recognized as a suitable route for complex fabrication and engineering. Despite comprehensive studies on the undercooling phenomenon, little progress has been made in the use of undercooled metals, primarily due to low yields and poor stability. This paper reports the use of an extension of droplet emulsion technique (SLICE) to produce undercooled core-shell particles of structure; metal/oxide shell-acetate (‘/' = physisorbed, ’-‘ = chemisorbed), from molten Field’s metal (Bi-In-Sn) and Bi-Sn alloys. These particles exhibit stability against solidification at ambient conditions. Besides synthesis, we report the use of these undercooled metal, liquid core-shell, particles for heat free joining and manufacturing at ambient conditions. Our approach incorporates gentle etching and/or fracturing of outer oxide-acetate layers through mechanical stressing or shearing, thus initiating a cascade entailing fluid flow with concomitant deformation, combination/alloying, shaping, and solidification. This simple and low cost technique for soldering and fabrication enables formation of complex shapes and joining at the meso- and micro-scale at ambient conditions without heat or electricity.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Metal, Solid, Viscosity, Liquid, Fluid, Supercooling, Melting point


Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Unfortunately, at present, chocolate products contain too much fat, leading to obesity. Although this issue was called into attention decades ago, no actual solution was found. To bypass this critical outstanding problem, two manufacturers introduced some low-calorie fats to substitute for cocoa butter. Somehow, their products are not allowed in most countries. Here we show that this issue is deeply related to the basic science of soft matter, especially to the viscosity of liquid suspension and maximally random jammed (MRJ) density. When the concentration of cocoa solid is high, close to the MRJ density, removing a small amount of fat will jam the chocolate flow. Applying unconventional electrorheology to liquid chocolate with applied field in the flow direction, we aggregate the cocoa particles into prolate spheroids in micrometers. This microstructure change breaks the rotational symmetry, reduces liquid chocolate’s viscosity along the flow direction, and increases its MRJ density significantly. Hence the fat level in chocolate can be effectively reduced. We are expecting a new class of healthier and tastier chocolate soon.

Concepts: Nutrition, Liquid, Soft matter, Fluid, Rotational symmetry, Chocolate, Cocoa butter, Cocoa solids


Biological microorganisms swim with flagella and cilia that execute nonreciprocal motions for low Reynolds number (Re) propulsion in viscous fluids. This symmetry requirement is a consequence of Purcell’s scallop theorem, which complicates the actuation scheme needed by microswimmers. However, most biomedically important fluids are non-Newtonian where the scallop theorem no longer holds. It should therefore be possible to realize a microswimmer that moves with reciprocal periodic body-shape changes in non-Newtonian fluids. Here we report a symmetric ‘micro-scallop’, a single-hinge microswimmer that can propel in shear thickening and shear thinning (non-Newtonian) fluids by reciprocal motion at low Re. Excellent agreement between our measurements and both numerical and analytical theoretical predictions indicates that the net propulsion is caused by modulation of the fluid viscosity upon varying the shear rate. This reciprocal swimming mechanism opens new possibilities in designing biomedical microdevices that can propel by a simple actuation scheme in non-Newtonian biological fluids.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Continuum mechanics, Fluid mechanics, Viscosity, Shear stress, Fluid, Non-Newtonian fluid, Newtonian fluid


Maintenance fluids in critically ill brain-injured patients are part of routine critical care. Both the amounts of fluid volumes infused and the type and tonicity of maintenance fluids are relevant in understanding the impact of fluids on the pathophysiology of secondary brain injuries in these patients. In this narrative review, current evidence on routine fluid management of critically ill brain-injured patients and use of haemodynamic monitoring is summarized. Pertinent guidelines and consensus statements on fluid management for brain-injured patients are highlighted. In general, existing guidelines indicate that fluid management in these neurocritical care patients should be targeted at euvolemia using isotonic fluids. A critical appraisal is made of the available literature regarding the appropriate amount of fluids, haemodynamic monitoring and which types of fluids should be administered or avoided and a practical approach to fluid management is elaborated. Although hypovolemia is bound to contribute to secondary brain injury, some more recent data have emerged indicating the potential risks of fluid overload. However, it is acknowledged that many factors govern the relationship between fluid management and cerebral blood flow and oxygenation and more research seems warranted to optimise fluid management and improve outcomes.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Patient, Traumatic brain injury, Illness, Neurology, Fluid mechanics, Viscosity, Fluid


In optogenetics, neurons are genetically modified to become sensitive to light and thus, they can be stimulated or inhibited by light of certain wavelengths. In this work, we describe the fabrication of a polymer-based shaft electrode as a tool for optogenetics. This device can conduct light as well as fluids to a target brain region and record electrical neural signals from the same part of the tissue simultaneously. It is intended to facilitate optogenetic in vivo experiments with those novel multimodal neural probes or polymer optrodes. We used microsystems technology to integrate an SU-8 based waveguide and fluidic channel into a polyimide-based electrode shaft to allow simultaneous optical stimulation, fluid delivery, and electrophysiological recording in awake behaving animals. In a first acute proof-of-concept experiment in genetically modified mice, our device recorded single unit activity that was modulated by laser light transmitted into the tissue via the integrated waveguide.

Concepts: Neuron, Light, Optical fiber, Stimulated emission, In vivo, Neuroscience, Human brain, Fluid


The aim of this study is to prepare whey protein (WP)-based microparticles (MP) using the Encapsulator(®) device. The viscosity dependence of the extrusion device required to mix WP with a food-grade and less viscous polymer. Mixed WP/ALG MP were obtained with the optimized WP/alginate (ALG) ratio (62/38). These particles were further coated with WP or ALG using non-traumatic and solvent-free coating process developed in this study. Size and morphology of coated and uncoated MP were determined. Then, swelling and degradation (WP release) of formulations were investigated in pH 1.2 and 7.5 buffers and in simulated gastric and intestinal fluids (SGF, SIF) and compared to pure ALG and pure WP particle behaviours. At pH 1.2, pure ALG shrank and pure WP swelled, whereas the sizes of mixed WP/ALG matrix were stable. In SGF, WP/ALG MP resisted to pepsin degradation compare to pure WP particles due to ALG shrinkage which limited pepsin diffusion within particles. Coating addition with WP or ALG slowed down pepsin degradation. At pH 7.5, WP/ALG particles were rapidly degraded due to ALG sensitivity but the addition of a WP coating limited effectively the swelling and the degradation of MP. In SIF, pancreatin accelerated MP degradation but ALG-coated MP exhibited interesting robustness. These results confirmed the interest and the feasibility to produce coated WP-based MP which could be a potential orally controlled release drug delivery system.

Concepts: Whey protein, Milk, Viscosity, Coating, Fluid, Particle, Non-Newtonian fluid, Formulations