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Active fluids - Interactions and collective dynamics in phoretic suspensions

Abstract : Diffusiophoresis is a physico-chemical mechanism by which certain microscopic colloids drift through gradients of a solute concentration field in a fluid. This mechanism is exploited by autophoretic particles, which are chemically active synthetic colloids, to achieve self-propulsion. These particles influence each others' motion through chemical and hydrodynamic interactions and are hence known to exhibit collective behaviour. Modeling these interactions is a subject of intense research over the past decades, both from a physical perspective to understand the precise mechanisms of the interactions, as well as from an experimental point of view to explain the observations of formation of coherent large-scale structures. However, an exact modeling of is difficult due to multi-body interactions and surface effects. Most efforts so far rely on the superposition of far-field approximations for each particle's signature, which are only valid asymptotically in the dilute suspension limit. A systematic and unified analytical framework based on the classical Method of Reflections (MoR) is developed here for both Laplace and Stokes' problems to obtain the multi-body interactions and the resulting velocities of phoretic particles, up to any order of accuracy in the radius-to-distance ratio of the particles.A system comprising only of chemically- and geometrically-isotropic autophoretic particles is then considered in detail. It is known that such isotropic particles cannot self-propel in isolation; however, in the presence of other identical particles, the symmetry of the concentration field is broken and the particles spontaneously form close packed clusters. Remarkably, these clusters are observed to self-propel based on their geometric arrangement. This result thus identifies a new route to symmetry-breaking for the concentration field and to self-propulsion, that is not based on an anisotropic design, but on the collective interactions of identical and homogeneous active particles. An argument for origin of this self-propulsive behaviour of clusters is made based on MoR. Furthermore, using full numerical simulations and theoretical model for clustering, we characterize the statistical properties of self-propulsion of the system.
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Submitted on : Monday, January 20, 2020 - 10:03:09 AM
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Akhil Varma. Active fluids - Interactions and collective dynamics in phoretic suspensions. Mechanics of the fluids [physics.class-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLX109⟩. ⟨tel-02445288⟩



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