Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Flocking ferromagnetic colloids

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science Advances  15 Feb 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 2, e1601469
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601469

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Abstract

Assemblages of microscopic colloidal particles exhibit fascinating collective motion when energized by electric or magnetic fields. The behaviors range from coherent vortical motion to phase separation and dynamic self-assembly. Although colloidal systems are relatively simple, understanding their collective response, especially under out-of-equilibrium conditions, remains elusive. We report on the emergence of flocking and global rotation in the system of rolling ferromagnetic microparticles energized by a vertical alternating magnetic field. By combing experiments and discrete particle simulations, we have identified primary physical mechanisms, leading to the emergence of large-scale collective motion: spontaneous symmetry breaking of the clockwise/counterclockwise particle rotation, collisional alignment of particle velocities, and random particle reorientations due to shape imperfections. We have also shown that hydrodynamic interactions between the particles do not have a qualitative effect on the collective dynamics. Our findings shed light on the onset of spatial and temporal coherence in a large class of active systems, both synthetic (colloids, swarms of robots, and biopolymers) and living (suspensions of bacteria, cell colonies, and bird flocks).

Keywords
  • self-assembly
  • colloids
  • active matter
  • flocking
  • Collective Behavior
  • Synchronization

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

More Like This