Microscopic origin and macroscopic implications of lane formation in mixtures of oppositely driven particles

K Klymko and PL Geissler and S Whitelam, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 94, 022608 (2016).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.94.022608

Colloidal particles of two types, driven in opposite directions, can segregate into lanes Vissers et al., Soft Matter 7, 2352 (2011). This phenomenon can be reproduced by two-dimensional Brownian dynamics simulations of model particles Dzubiella et al., Phys. Rev. E 65, 021402 (2002). Here we use computer simulation to assess the generality of lane formation with respect to variation of particle type and dynamical protocol. We find that laning results from rectification of diffusion on the scale of a particle diameter: oppositely driven particles must, in the time taken to encounter each other in the direction of the drive, diffuse in the perpendicular direction by about one particle diameter. This geometric constraint implies that the diffusion constant of a particle, in the presence of those of the opposite type, grows approximately linearly with the Peclet number, a prediction confirmed by our numerics over a range of model parameters. Such environment-dependent diffusion is statistically similar to an effective interparticle attraction; consistent with this observation, we find that oppositely driven nonattractive colloids display features characteristic of the simplest model system possessing both interparticle attractions and persistent motion, the driven Ising lattice gas Katz, Leibowitz, and Spohn, J. Stat. Phys. 34, 497 (1984). These features include long-ranged correlations in the disordered regime, a critical regime characterized by a change in slope of the particle current with the Peclet number, and fluctuations that grow with system size. By analogy, we suggest that lane formation in the driven colloid system is a phase transition in the macroscopic limit, but that macroscopic phase separation would not occur in finite time upon starting from disordered initial conditions.

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