The propulsion mechanism of microscopic bacteria fundamentally differs from swimming of large aquatic animals or humans. Because of their small size and low propulsion velocities, bacteria cannot rely on any time-reversible stroke for propulsion. Instead they employ various versions of long helical filaments (flagella) that are rotated at constant speed, and function, essentially, as a cork-screw. The relation between the geometric parameters of the bacteria (its size, shape, length of the flagella etc.) and its propulsion velocity in water is governed by the low-Reynolds number hydrodynamics and is relatively well-understood .
However, many bacteria live in complex biological environments that often do not behave like Newtonian fluids (water). Presently, the mechanism of bacterial propulsion in complex fluids is not understood. You will employ analytical and numerical techniques to study microswimmers in model complex fluids.
 Life at low Reynolds number, E. M. Purcell, American Journal of Physics 45, 3 (1977).
- Dr Alexander Morozov (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.
Find out more about this research area
The links below summarise our research in the area(s) relevant to this project:
- Find out more about Physics of Living Matter.
- Find out more about the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems.
- Find out how to apply for our PhD degrees.
- Find out about fees and funding and studentship opportunities.
- View and complete the application form (on the main University website).
- Find out how to contact us for more information.