Hydrodynamically controlled self-organization in mixtures of active and passive colloids

Madden, Ian P. and Wang, Linlin and Simmchen, Juliane and Luijten, Erik (2022) Hydrodynamically controlled self-organization in mixtures of active and passive colloids. Small, 18 (21). 2107023. ISSN 1613-6810 (https://doi.org/10.1002/smll.202107023)

[thumbnail of Madden-etal-Small-2022-Hydrodynamically-controlled-self-organization-in-mixtures]
Text. Filename: Madden_etal_Small_2022_Hydrodynamically_controlled_self_organization_in_mixtures.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 logo

Download (1MB)| Preview


Active particles are known to exhibit collective behavior and induce structure in a variety of soft-matter systems. However, many naturally occurring complex fluids are mixtures of active and passive components. The authors examine how activity induces organization in such multi-component systems. Mixtures of passive colloids and colloidal micromotors are investigated and it is observed that even a small fraction of active particles induces reorganization of the passive components in an intriguing series of phenomena. Experimental observations are combined with large-scale simulations that explicitly resolve the near- and far-field effects of the hydrodynamic flow and simultaneously accurately treat the fluid–colloid interfaces. It is demonstrated that neither conventional molecular dynamics simulations nor the reduction of hydrodynamic effects to phoretic attractions can explain the observed phenomena, which originate from the flow field that is generated by the active colloids and subsequently modified by the aggregating passive units. These findings not only offer insight into the organization of biological or synthetic active–passive mixtures, but also open avenues to controlling the behavior of passive building blocks by means of small amounts of active particles.