Regular Article

The European Physical Journal E

, 35:119

First online:

Nano-swimmers in biological membranes and propulsion hydrodynamics in two dimensions

  • Mu-Jie HuangAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, National Central University
  • , Hsuan-Yi ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, National Central UniversityInstitute of Physics, Academia SinicaPhysics Division, National Center for Theoretical Sciences
  • , Alexander S. MikhailovAffiliated withAbteilung Physikalische Chemie, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

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Topical Collection
Active Matter


Active protein inclusions in biological membranes can represent nano-swimmers and propel themselves in lipid bilayers. A simple model of an active inclusion with three particles (domains) connected by variable elastic links is considered. First, the membrane is modeled as a two-dimensional viscous fluid and propulsion behavior in two dimensions is examined. After that, an example of a microscopic dynamical simulation is presented, where the lipid bilayer structure of the membrane is resolved and the solvent effects are included by multiparticle collision dynamics. Statistical analysis of data reveals ballistic motion of the swimmer, in contrast to the classical diffusion behavior found in the absence of active transitions between the states.

Graphical abstract


Regular Article - Topical issue: Active Matter