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Journal Articles Physical Review Fluids Year : 2022

Steady state propulsion of isotropic active colloids along a wall

Nikhil Desai
Sébastien Michelin
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Abstract

Active drops emit/absorb chemical solutes, whose concentration gradients cause interfacial flows driving their own transport and the propulsion of the droplet. Such nonlinear coupling enables active drops to achieve directed self-propulsion despite their isotropy if the ratio of advective-to-diffusive solute transport, i.e., the Péclet number (Pe), is larger than a finite critical threshold. In most experimental situations, active drops are non-neutrally buoyant and, thus, swim along rigid surfaces; yet theoretical descriptions of their nonlinear motion focus almost exclusively on unbounded domains to circumvent geometric complexity. To overcome this gap in understanding, we investigate the spontaneous emergence and nonlinear saturation of propulsion of an isotropic phoretic colloid along a rigid wall to which it is confined by a constant external force (e.g., gravity). This phoretic particle model is considered here as a limiting case for a viscous active drop. We show that, for moderate Pe, the particle motion and associated chemical transport reduce the chemically induced wall repulsion, thereby causing the particle to swim progressively closer to the wall as Pe increases. Far from hindering self-propulsion, this reduction in the particle-wall separation is accompanied by a wall-induced efficient rearrangement of the solute concentration gradients driving the particle, thus, augmenting its swimming speed.
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hal-04074060 , version 1 (19-04-2023)

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Nikhil Desai, Sébastien Michelin. Steady state propulsion of isotropic active colloids along a wall. Physical Review Fluids, 2022, 7 (10), pp.100501. ⟨10.1103/physrevfluids.7.100501⟩. ⟨hal-04074060⟩
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