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IRTG / Soft Matter Science
Freiburger Materialforschungszentrum
Stefan-Meier-Str. 21
79104 Freiburg, Germany


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You are here: Home Events Prof. Thomas Palberg "Self-organized dynamics of modular micro-swimmers"

Prof. Thomas Palberg "Self-organized dynamics of modular micro-swimmers"

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Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany

  • Seminar
When Jul 16, 2014
from 02:15 PM to 03:00 PM
Where Seminarraum A, FMF, Stefan-Meier-Str. 21, Freiburg
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An elegant way of swimming at low Reynolds numbers is phorectic motion, which does not rely on any moving part. Rather, a self-generated gradient induces a relative motion between the swimmer surface and the immediately surrounding solvent. Depending on the type of generated gradient, this motion classifies as electro-, chemo-, or thermo-phoresis. Several fascinating experimental realizations have been demonstrated using individual compact swimmers of mainly rod or sphere type. The approach to phoretic micro-swimming followed by our group is different in the sense, that our swimmers are modular objects. Even the minimal modular swimmer consists of a reservoir particle releasing a local electrolyte gradient and the substrate providing a gradient driven electro-osmotic solvent flow (the motor) propelling the reservoir particle. Several reservoir particles organize to form schools, which show a schooling-swimming transition, once a single larger reservoir particle enters to teak the lead. In fact the same effect is observed for any single reservoir particle and added inert colloidal particles taking the role of a gearing. Also other particles may be assembled by or attached to the reservoir particle carrying these along as cargo. Finally several ideas have been proposed to realize a convincing remote steering of the resulting complex. None of the complex constituents shows any phoretic motion under isolated conditions. Propulsion here is an emergent property of the collective and cooperative self-organization into a dynamic complex. The talk will shortly sketch the present state in experimental micro-swimming, explain the mechanisms behind and the challenges involved in realizing, understanding and optimizing modular micro-swimming and finish with an outlook on open issues.

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