Hydrodynamic mobility of chiral colloidal aggregates

Eric E. Keaveny, Michael J. Shelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A recent advance in colloidal technology uses magnetic aggregation to enable the formation of micron-scale particle clusters with helical symmetry. The basic building blocks of these aggregates are doublets composed of two micron-scale beads of different radii bonded together by a magnetic cement. Such self-assembled structures offer potential for controllable transport and separation in a low Reynolds number environment using externally applied magnetic or electric fields. Establishing the hydrodynamic properties of the aggregates, in particular the coupling between rotation and translation afforded by the cluster geometry, is an essential initial step toward the design of microfluidic devices employing these aggregates. To quantify this coupling, we first determine parametrized expressions that describe the positions of the beads in an aggregate as a function of size ratio of the two beads composing the doublets. With the geometry of the structure known, we perform hydrodynamic calculations to ascertain entries of the mobility matrix for the aggregate and establish the relationship between the applied torque about the helical axis and translations parallel to this direction. We find that for larger values of the particle radius ratio the coupling between rotations and translations changes sign as the number of doublets in the aggregate increases. This feature indicates that the clusters possess a more complex superhelical structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051405
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 28 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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