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Light-controlled assembly of active colloidal molecules

Journal article
Authors Falko Schmidt
B. Liebchen
H. Lowen
Giovanni Volpe
Published in Journal of Chemical Physics
Volume 150
Issue 9
ISSN 0021-9606
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.5079861
Keywords emergent behavior, transport, dynamics, Chemistry, Physics
Subject categories Physical Sciences

Abstract

Thanks to a constant energy input, active matter can self-assemble into phases with complex architectures and functionalities such as living clusters that dynamically form, reshape, and break-up, which are forbidden in equilibrium materials by the entropy maximization (or free energy minimization) principle. The challenge to control this active self-assembly has evoked widespread efforts typically hinging on engineering of the properties of individual motile constituents. Here, we provide a different route, where activity occurs as an emergent phenomenon only when individual building blocks bind together in a way that we control by laser light. Using experiments and simulations of two species of immotile microspheres, we exemplify this route by creating active molecules featuring a complex array of behaviors, becoming migrators, spinners, and rotators. The possibility to control the dynamics of active self-assembly via light-controllable nonreciprocal interactions will inspire new approaches to understand living matter and to design active materials. Published under license by AIP Publishing.

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