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CBES: Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science

Shape-Directed Dynamics of Active Colloids

Scientific Achievement

We showed how particle shape can be used to encode complex dynamical behaviors into colloidal particles powered by induced-charge electrophoresis (ICEP).


Dynamic trajectory of a C3 particle moving in a uniform electric field via ICEP.


Significance and Impact

Our results are useful in designing the active components of colloidal machines capable of bioinspired functions.

Research Details

  • We used theory and simulation to systematically explore the variety of ICEP motions of polarizable particles of different symmetries and shapes.
  • In addition to linear, rotational, and circular motions, we discovered particles capable of oscillatory motions, helical trajectories, and complex periodic orbits.
  • We described how desired particle trajectories can be rationally engineered into asymmetric microparticles, accessible by top-down fabrication techniques.


Shape-Directed Dynamics of Active Colloids Powered by Induced-Charge Electrophoresis
Brooks, A.M., Sabrina, S., Bishop, K.J.M.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, 2018, E1090-E1099.

Work performed at Pennsylvania State and Columbia Universities