2014 年 18 巻 1 号 p. 3-8
Microscopic traffic flow models are a class of scientific models of vehicular traffic dynamics. Here, we attempted to establish an experimental platform for mimicking microscopic traffic flow models at microscopic dimensions. We achieved this, by monitoring the flow of micro-sized particles transported by the motile cells of living microorganisms. Some researchers have described the cells of protozoan species as “swimming neurons” or “swimming sensory cells” applicable to biological micro-electro-mechanical systems or micro-biorobotics. Therefore these cells, in a controlled environment, may form a good model system for bio-implementable cellular automata for traffic simulation. The living cells of the Paramecium species including those of green paramecia (Paramecium bursaria), actively migrate towards a negatively charged electrode when exposed to an electric field. This type of cellular movement is known as galvanotaxis. P. bursaria was chosen as a model organism since the ideal micro-vehicles required for micro-particle transport must have a particular particle packing capacity within the cells. The present study establishes that the movement of cells with or without the loading of microspheres (Φ, 9.75 μm) can be controlled on a two-dimensional plane under strict electrical controls. Lastly, implementation of microchips equipped with optimally sized micro-flow channels that allow the single-cell traffic of swimming P. bursaria was proposed for further studies and mathematical modeling.