Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2018

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Type



Certain human genetic diseases -- primary ciliary dyskinesia, infertility, and hydrocephalus -- are characterized by changes in beat frequency and waveform of cilia and flagella. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which is a single-cell green alga about ten micrometers in diameter that swims with two flagella, serves as an excellent biological model because its flagella share the same structure and genetic background as mammalian cilia and flagella. This study uses the finite element method to investigate the behavior of C. reinhardtii swimming from nano-scale to micro-scale. At the device-level, micro-scale modeling indicates that well-designed acoustic microfluidic devices can be used to trap groups of C. reinhardtii, and then the apparent spread of a C. reinhardtii population can be correlated to swimming capability through knowledge of the acoustic trapping strength. This finite element model is validated against cell-trapping experiments. At the organism-level, a static nano-scale model is used to study the passive structures of flagella, and a dynamic nano-scale model confirms the theory that steady dynein force (active structures), combined with fluid-structure interactions, can induce flagellar oscillation. These two studies will be connected by a particle tracing model that incorporates the dynamic nano-scale model and the micro-scale model to enable further study of both propulsive forces and the acoustic cell-trapping mechanism.


English (en)


Dr. J. Mark Meacham

Committee Members

Dr. Philip V. Bayly, Dr. David A. Peters


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