Self-propulsion of a catalytically active particle near a planar wall: from reflection to sliding and hovering

Soft Matter. 2015 Jan 21;11(3):434-8. doi: 10.1039/c4sm02317j.


Micron-sized particles moving through a solution in response to self-generated chemical gradients serve as model systems for studying active matter. Their far-reaching potential applications will require the particles to sense and respond to their local environment in a robust manner. The self-generated hydrodynamic and chemical fields, which induce particle motion, probe and are modified by that very environment, including confining boundaries. Focusing on a catalytically active Janus particle as a paradigmatic example, we predict that near a hard planar wall such a particle exhibits several scenarios of motion: reflection from the wall, motion at a steady-state orientation and height above the wall, or motionless, steady "hovering." Concerning the steady states, the height and the orientation are determined both by the proportion of catalyst coverage and the interactions of the solutes with the different "faces" of the particle. Accordingly, we propose that a desired behavior can be selected by tuning these parameters via a judicious design of the particle surface chemistry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't