Thermal orientation and thermophoresis of anisotropic colloids: The role of the internal composition

OR Gittus and JD Olarte-Plata and F Bresme, EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL E, 42, 90 (2019).

DOI: 10.1140/epje/i2019-11852-5

.The drift motion experienced by colloids immersed in a fluid with an intrinsic temperature gradient is referred to as thermophoresis. An anisotropic mass distribution inside colloidal particles imparts a net orientation with respect to the applied thermal field, and in turn alters the thermophoretic response of the colloids. This rectification of the rotational Brownian motion is called thermal orientation. To explore the sensitivity of the thermal orientation effect with the internal composition of colloids, we investigate the thermophoretic response of rod-like colloids in the dilute regime, targeting different internal mass distributions. We derive phenomenological equations to model the dependence of the Soret coefficient with degree of mass anisotropy and test these equations using non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations. Using both theory and simulation, we show that the average orientation and the Soret coefficients of the colloids can depend significantly on the internal mass distribution. This observation suggests an approach to identify internal colloidal compositions using thermal gradients as sensing probes.

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