Emergent collective colloidal currents generated via exchange dynamics in a broken dimer state

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Science Advances  06 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 10, eaaz2257
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz2257


Controlling the flow of matter down to micrometer-scale confinement is of central importance in material and environmental sciences, with direct applications in nano and microfluidics, drug delivery, and biotechnology. Currents of microparticles are usually generated with external field gradients of different nature (e.g., electric, magnetic, optical, thermal, or chemical ones), which are difficult to control over spatially extended regions and samples. Here, we demonstrate a general strategy to assemble and transport polarizable microparticles in fluid media through combination of confinement and magnetic dipolar interactions. We use a homogeneous magnetic modulation to assemble dispersed particles into rotating dimeric state and frustrated binary lattices, and generate collective currents that arise from a novel, field-synchronized particle exchange process. These dynamic states are similar to cyclotron and skipping orbits in electronic and molecular systems, thus paving the way toward understanding and engineering similar processes at different length scales across condensed matter.

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