Active particles sense micromechanical properties of glasses
2019-10, Lozano, Celia, Gomez Solano, Juan Ruben, Bechinger, Clemens
Understanding the mechanical properties of glasses is a great scientific challenge. A powerful technique to study the material response on a microscopic scale is microrheology, in which one analyses the translational dynamics of an externally driven probe particle. Here we show that the translational and rotational dynamics of a self-propelled probe particle with an unconstrained orientational motion can be used to gather information about the mechanical properties of a colloidal glassy system. We find that its rotational diffusion coefficient continuously increases towards the glass transition and drops down in the glassy state. Such unexpected behaviour demonstrates a strong coupling mechanism between the orientation of the active probe particle and the glassy structure, which can be well described by a simple rheological model. Our results suggest that active probe particles may be useful for the micromechanical characterization of complex materials.
Diffusing wave paradox of phototactic particles in traveling light pulses
2019, Lozano, Celia, Bechinger, Clemens
Cells navigate through complex surroundings by following cues from their environment. A prominent example is Dictyostelium, which is directed by chemotaxis towards regions with higher concentrations. In the presence of traveling chemical waves, however, amoebae migrate counter to the running wave. Such behavior, referred to as diffusing wave paradox, suggests the existence of adaptation and directional memory. Here we experimentally investigate the response of phototactic self-propelled microparticles to traveling light-pulses. Despite their entirely memory-less (i.e., strictly local) response to the environment, we observe the same phenomenological behavior, i.e., particle motion counter to the pulse direction. Our findings are supported by a minimal model which considers active particle reorientations within local light gradients. The complex and robust behavior of synthetic active particles to spatially and temporally varying stimuli enables new strategies for achieving collective behavior and can be used for the design of micro-robotic systems with limited signal-processing capabilities.
Tuning the motility and directionality of self-propelled colloids
2017, Gomez Solano, Juan Ruben, Samin, Sela, Lozano, Celia, Ruedas-Batuecas, Pablo, van Roij, René, Bechinger, Clemens
Microorganisms are able to overcome the thermal randomness of their surroundings by harvesting energy to navigate in viscous fluid environments. In a similar manner, synthetic colloidal microswimmers are capable of mimicking complex biolocomotion by means of simple self-propulsion mechanisms. Although experimentally the speed of active particles can be controlled by e.g. self-generated chemical and thermal gradients, an in-situ change of swimming direction remains a challenge. In this work, we study self-propulsion of half-coated spherical colloids in critical binary mixtures and show that the coupling of local body forces, induced by laser illumination, and the wetting properties of the colloid, can be used to finely tune both the colloid’s swimming speed and its directionality. We experimentally and numerically demonstrate that the direction of motion can be reversibly switched by means of the size and shape of the droplet(s) nucleated around the colloid, depending on the particle radius and the fluid’s ambient temperature. Moreover, the aforementioned features enable the possibility to realize both negative and positive phototaxis in light intensity gradients. Our results can be extended to other types of half-coated microswimmers, provided that both of their hemispheres are selectively made active but with distinct physical properties.
Propagating density spikes in light-powered motility-ratchets
2019-07-03, Lozano, Celia, Liebchen, Benno, ten Hagen, Borge, Bechinger, Clemens, Löwen, Hartmut
Combining experiments and computer simulations, we use a spatially periodic and flashing light-field to direct the motion of phototactic active colloids. Here, the colloids self-organize into a density spike pattern, which resembles a shock wave and propagates over long distances, almost without dispersing. The underlying mechanism involves a synchronization of the colloids with the light-field, so that particles see the same intensity gradient each time the light-pattern is switched on, but no gradient in between (for example). This creates pulsating transport whose strength and direction can be controlled via the flashing protocol and the self-propulsion speed of the colloids. Our results might be useful for drug delivery applications and can be used to segregate active colloids by their speed.
Slow relaxation dynamics of clogs in a vibrated granular silo
2018-04-24, Guerrero, Bruno V., Pugnaloni, Luis Ariel, Lozano, Celia, Zuriguel, Iker, Garcimartín, Angel
We experimentally explore the vibration-induced unclogging of arches halting the flow in a two-dimensional silo. The endurance of arches is determined by carrying out a survival analysis of their breaking times. By analyzing the dynamics of two morphological variables, we demonstrate that arches evolve toward less regular structures and it seems that there may exist a certain degree of irregularity that the arch reaches before collapsing. Moreover, we put forward that σ (the standard deviation of all angles between consecutive beads) describes faithfully the morphological evolution of the arch. Focusing on long-lasting arches, we study σ calculating its two-time autocorrelation function and its mean-squared displacement. In particular, the apparent logarithmic increase of the correlation and the decrease of the mean-squared displacement of σ when the waiting time is increased reveal a slowing down of the dynamics. This behavior is a clear hallmark of aging phenomena and confirms the lack of ergodicity in the unclogging dynamics. Our findings provide new insights on how an arch tends to destabilize and how the probability that it breaks with a long sustained vibration decreases with time.
Phototaxis of synthetic microswimmers in optical landscapes
2016-09-30T17:05:34Z, Lozano, Celia, ten Hagen, Borge, Löwen, Hartmut, Bechinger, Clemens
Many microorganisms, with phytoplankton and zooplankton as prominent examples, display phototactic behaviour, that is, the ability to perform directed motion within a light gradient. Here we experimentally demonstrate that sensing of light gradients can also be achieved in a system of synthetic photo-activated microparticles being exposed to an inhomogeneous laser field. We observe a strong orientational response of the particles because of diffusiophoretic torques, which in combination with an intensity-dependent particle motility eventually leads to phototaxis. Since the aligning torques saturate at high gradients, a strongly rectified particle motion is found even in periodic asymmetric intensity landscapes. Our results are in excellent agreement with numerical simulations of a minimal model and should similarly apply to other particle propulsion mechanisms. Because light fields can be easily adjusted in space and time, this also allows to extend our approach to dynamical environments.
Colloidal Brazil nut effect in microswimmer mixtures induced by motility contrast
2019-03-21, Jahanshahi, Soudeh, Lozano, Celia, ten Hagen, Borge, Bechinger, Clemens, Löwen, Hartmut
We numerically and experimentally study the segregation dynamics in a binary mixture of microswimmers which move on a two-dimensional substrate in a static periodic triangular-like light intensity field. The motility of the active particles is proportional to the imposed light intensity, and they possess a motility contrast, i.e., the prefactor depends on the species. In addition, the active particles also experience a torque aligning their motion towards the direction of the negative intensity gradient. We find a segregation of active particles near the intensity minima where typically one species is localized close to the minimum and the other one is centered around in an outer shell. For a very strong aligning torque, there is an exact mapping onto an equilibrium system in an effective external potential that is minimal at the intensity minima. This external potential is similar to (height-dependent) gravity such that one can define effective “heaviness” of the self-propelled particles. In analogy to shaken granular matter in gravity, we define a “colloidal Brazil nut effect” if the heavier particles are floating on top of the lighter ones. Using extensive Brownian dynamics simulations, we identify system parameters for the active colloidal Brazil nut effect to occur and explain it based on a generalized Archimedes’ principle within the effective equilibrium model: heavy particles are levitated in a dense fluid of lighter particles if their effective mass density is lower than that of the surrounding fluid. We also perform real-space experiments on light-activated self-propelled colloidal mixtures which confirm the theoretical predictions.
Run-and-Tumble-Like Motion of Active Colloids in Viscoelastic Media
2018, Lozano, Celia, Gomez Solano, Juan Ruben, Bechinger, Clemens
Run-and-tumble motion is a prominent locomotion strategy employed by many living microorganisms. It is characterized by straight swimming intervals (runs), which are interrupted by sudden reorientation events (tumbles). In contrast, directional changes of synthetic microswimmers (active particles) are caused by rotational diffusion, which is superimposed with their translational motion and thus leads to rather continuous and slow particle reorientations. Here we demonstrate that active particles can also perform a swimming motion where translational and orientational changes are disentangled, similar to run-and-tumble. In our system, such motion is realized by a viscoelastic solvent and a periodic modulation of the self-propulsion velocity. Experimentally, this is achieved using light-activated Janus colloids, which are illuminated by a time-dependent laser field. We observe a strong enhancement of the effective translational and rotational motion when the modulation time is comparable to the relaxation time of the viscoelastic fluid. Our findings are explained by the relaxation of the elastic stress, which builds up during the self-propulsion, and is suddenly released when the activity is turned off. In addition to a better understanding of active motion in viscoelastic surroundings, our results may suggest novel steering strategies for synthetic microswimmers in complex environments.
Formation, compression and surface melting of colloidal clusters by active particles
2015, Kümmel, Felix, Shabestari, Parmida, Lozano, Celia, Volpe, Giovanni, Bechinger, Clemens
We demonstrate with experiments and numerical simulations that the structure and dynamics of a suspension of passive particles is strongly altered by adding a very small (<1%) number of active particles. With increasing passive particle density, we observe first the formation of dynamic clusters comprised of passive particles being surrounded by active particles, then the merging and compression of these clusters, and eventually the local melting of crystalline regions by enclosed active particles.