Fabrication and Electric Field-Driven Active Propulsion of Patchy Microellipsoids

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Active colloids are a synthetic analogue of biological microorganisms that consume external energy to swim through viscous fluids. Such motion requires breaking the symmetry of the fluid flow in the vicinity of a particle; however, it is challenging to understand how surface and shape anisotropies of the colloid lead to a particular trajectory. Here, we attempt to deconvolute the effects of particle shape and surface anisotropy on the propulsion of model ellipsoids in alternating current (AC) electric fields. We first introduce a simple process for depositing metal patches of various shapes on the surfaces of ellipsoidal particles. We show that the shape of the metal patch is governed by the assembled structure of the ellipsoids on the substrate used for physical vapor deposition. Under high-frequency AC electric field, ellipsoids dispersed in water show linear, circular, and helical trajectories which depend on the shapes of the surface patches. We demonstrate that features of the helical trajectories such as the pitch and diameter can be tuned by varying the degree of patch asymmetry along the two primary axes of the ellipsoids, namely longitudinal and transverse. Our study reveals the role of patch shape on the trajectory of ellipsoidal particles propelled by induced charge electrophoresis. We develop heuristics based on patch asymmetries that can be used to design patchy particles with specified nonlinear trajectories.

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The journal of physical chemistry. B

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