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Shape dependent phoretic propulsion of slender active particles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number033101
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Feb 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - Mar 2018


We theoretically study the self-propulsion of a thin (slender) colloid driven by asymmetric chemical reactions on its surface at vanishing Reynolds number. Using the method of matched asymptotic expansions, we obtain the colloid self-propulsion velocity as a function of its shape and surface physico-chemical properties. The mechanics of self-phoresis for rod-like swimmers has a richer spectrum of behaviours than spherical swimmers due to the presence of two small length scales, the slenderness of the rod and the width of the slip layer. This leads to subtleties in taking the limit of vanishing slenderness. As a result, even for very thin rods, the distribution of curvature along the surface of the swimmer, namely its shape, plays a surprising role in determining the efficiency of propulsion. We find that thin cylindrical self-phoretic swimmers with blunt ends move faster than thin prolate spheroid shaped swimmers with the same aspect ratio.

    Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute

    Research areas

  • Synthetic biology

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