Directional transport of colloids inside a bath of self-propelling walkers

H Merlitz and CX Wu and JU Sommer, SOFT MATTER, 13, 3726-3733 (2017).

DOI: 10.1039/c7sm00613f

We present a setup in which passive colloids inside a solvent are moved to the boundaries of the container. The directional transport is facilitated by self-propelling microparticles ("walkers'') with an activity gradient, which reduces their propulsion in the vicinity of bounding walls. An attractive interaction leads to the adsorption of walkers onto the colloid-surfaces in regions of low walker activity. It is shown that the activity gradient generates a free energy gradient which in turn acts as a driving force on the passive colloids. We carry out molecular dynamics simulations and present approaches to a theoretical description of the involved processes. Although the simulation data are not reproduced on a fully quantitative level, their qualitative features are covered by the model. The effect described here may be applied to facilitate a directional transport of drugs or to eliminate pollutants.

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