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  1. null (Ed.)
    Some micro-organisms and artificial micro-swimmers propel at low Reynolds numbers (Re) via the interaction of their flexible appendages with the surrounding fluid. While their locomotion has been extensively studied with a Newtonian fluid assumption, in realistic biological environments these micro-swimmers invariably encounter rheologically complex fluids. In particular, many biological fluids such as blood and different types of mucus have shear-thinning viscosities. The influence of this ubiquitous non-Newtonian rheology on the performance of flexible swimmers remains largely unknown. Here, we present a first study to examine how shear-thinning rheology alters the fluid-structure interaction and hence the propulsion performance of elastic swimmers at low Re. Via a simple elastic swimmer actuated magnetically, we demonstrate that shear-thinning rheology can either enhance or hinder elastohydrodynamic propulsion, depending on the intricate interplay between elastic and viscous forces as well as the magnetic actuation. We also use a reduced-order model to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the enhanced and hindered propulsion observed in different physical regimes. These results and improved understanding could guide the design of flexible micro-swimmers in non-Newtonian fluids. 
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  2. Abstract

    The electrical double layer is known to spontaneously form at the electrode‐electrolyte interface, impacting many important chemical and physical processes as well as applications including electrocatalysis, electroorganic synthesis, nanomaterial preparation, energy storage, and even emulsion stabilization. However, it has been challenging to study this fundamental phenomenon at the molecular level because the electrical double layer is deeply “buried” by the bulk electrolyte solution. Here, we report a quantitative probing of the electrical double layer of ionic liquids from the solid side of a photoelectron‐transparent graphene‐carbon nanotube hybrid membrane electrode using X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The membrane window is ultrathin (1‐1.5 nm), large (~1 cm2), and robust, enabling a tight seal of the electrolyte and quantitative measurement with excellent photoelectron signals. Byoperandomonitoring the population changes of cations and anions in response to the applied electrical potentials, we experimentally resolve the chemical structure and dynamics of the electrical double layer, which corroborate results from molecular dynamics simulations.


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