Living crystals of light-activated colloidal surfers

Jeremie Palacci, Stefano Sacanna, Asher Preska Steinberg, David J. Pine, Paul M. Chaikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spontaneous formation of colonies of bacteria or flocks of birds are examples of self-organization in active living matter. Here, we demonstrate a form of self-organization from nonequilibrium driving forces in a suspension of synthetic photoactivated colloidal particles. They lead to two-dimensional "living crystals," which form, break, explode, and re-form elsewhere. The dynamic assembly results from a competition between self-propulsion of particles and an attractive interaction induced respectively by osmotic and phoretic effects and activated by light. We measured a transition from normal to giant-number fluctuations. Our experiments are quantitatively described by simple numerical simulations. We show that the existence of the living crystals is intrinsically related to the out-of-equilibrium collisions of the self-propelled particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)936-940
Number of pages5
Issue number6122
StatePublished - Feb 22 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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