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Journal Articles European Physical Journal E: Soft matter and biological physics Year : 2015

Autophoretic locomotion from geometric asymmetry


Among the few methods which have been proposed to create small-scale swimmers, those relying on self-phoretic mechanisms present an interesting design challenge in that chemical gradients are required to generate net propulsion. Building on recent work, we propose that asymmetries in geometry are sufficient to induce chemical gradients and swimming. We illustrate this idea using two different calculations. We first calculate exactly the self-propulsion speed of a system composed of two spheres of unequal sizes but identically chemically homogeneous. We then consider arbitrary, small-amplitude, shape deformations of a chemically homogeneous sphere, and calculate asymptotically the self-propulsion velocity induced by the shape asymmetries. Our results demonstrate how geometric asymmetries can be tuned to induce large locomotion speeds without the need of chemical patterning.

Dates and versions

hal-01140759 , version 1 (09-04-2015)



Sébastien Michelin, Eric Lauga. Autophoretic locomotion from geometric asymmetry. European Physical Journal E: Soft matter and biological physics, 2015, 38 (2), pp.7. ⟨10.1140/epje/i2015-15007-6⟩. ⟨hal-01140759⟩
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