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Two-dimensional nature of the active Brownian motion of catalytic microswimmers at solid and liquid interfaces

Journal article
Authors K. Dietrich
D. Renggli
M. Zanini
Giovanni Volpe
I. Buttinoni
L. Isa
Published in New Journal of Physics
Volume 19
ISSN 1367-2630
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Language en
Keywords colloids, active matter, liquid interfaces, catalytic microswimmers, self-propelled particles, janus particles, fluid interfaces, contact-angle, water, colloids, surface, micromotors, pathways, motility, behavior, Physics
Subject categories Physical Sciences


Colloidal particles equipped with platinum patches can establish chemical gradients in H2O2-enriched solutions and undergo self-propulsion due to local diffusiophoretic migration. In bulk (3D), this class of active particles swim in the direction of the surface heterogeneities introduced by the patches and consequently reorient with the characteristic rotational diffusion time of the colloids. In this article, we present experimental and numerical evidence that planar 2D confinements defy this simple picture. Instead, the motion of active particles both on solid substrates and at flat liquid-liquid interfaces is captured by a 2D active Brownian motion model, in which rotational and translational motion are constrained in the xy-plane. This leads to an active motion that does not follow the direction of the surface heterogeneities and to timescales of reorientation that do not match the free rotational diffusion times. Furthermore, 2D-confinement at fluid-fluid interfaces gives rise to a unique distribution of swimming velocities: the patchy colloids uptake two main orientations leading to two particle populations with velocities that differ up to one order of magnitude. Our results shed new light on the behavior of active colloids in 2D, which is of interest for modeling and applications where confinements are present.

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