69th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics (November 20, 2016 — November 22, 2016)

V0057: The Hydrodynamic Genesis of "Critters"

  • Blaise Delmotte, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU
  • Michelle Driscoll, NYU Physics
  • Aleksandar Donev, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU
  • Paul Chaikin, NYU Physics
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/APS.DFD.2016.GFM.V0057

Short description:

In this video we show how stable motile structures made of hundreds of colloidal rotors, called "critters", can form from a hydrodynamic instability observed both in the lab and in simulations. This instability is controlled by the height of the particles above the floor and is due to the transverse flow generated by rotors spinning parallel to the surface  Thanks to the strong advective flows they generate, these structures could be used for guided particle transport, flow generation and mixing at the microscale.

Detailed abstract:

Condensation of objects into stable clusters occurs naturally in equilibrium and driven systems.  It is commonly held that potential interactions, depletion forces, or sensing are the only mechanisms which can create long-lived compact structures.  Here we show that persistent motile structures can form spontaneously from hydrodynamic interactions \emph{alone} with no sensing or potential interactions.  We study this structure formation in a system of colloidal rollers suspended and translating above a floor, using both experiments and large-scale 3D simulations. In this system, clusters originate from a previously unreported fingering instability, where fingers pinch off from an unstable front to form autonomous ``critters'', whose size is selected by the height of the particles above the floor. These critters are a stable state of the system, move much faster than individual particles, and quickly respond to a changing drive. With speed and direction set by a rotating magnetic field, these active structures offer interesting possibilities for guided transport, flow generation, and mixing at the microscale.

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