Dynamical configurations and bistability of helical nanostructures under external torque

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2012 Sep;86(3 Pt 1):031401. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.86.031401. Epub 2012 Sep 14.


We study the motion of a ferromagnetic helical nanostructure under the action of a rotating magnetic field. A variety of dynamical configurations were observed that depended strongly on the direction of magnetization and the geometrical parameters, which were also confirmed by a theoretical model, based on the dynamics of a rigid body under Stokes flow. Although motion at low Reynolds numbers is typically deterministic, under certain experimental conditions the nanostructures showed a surprising bistable behavior, such that the dynamics switched randomly between two configurations, possibly induced by thermal fluctuations. The experimental observations and the theoretical results presented in this paper are general enough to be applicable to any system of ellipsoidal symmetry under external force or torque.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't