Particle anisotropy tunes emergent behavior in active colloidal systems†
Studies of active particle systems have demonstrated that particle anisotropy can impact the collective behavior of a system, motivating a systematic study. Here, we report a systematic computational investigation of the role of anisotropy in shape and active force director on the collective behavior of a two-dimensional active colloidal system. We find that shape and force anisotropy can combine to produce critical densities both lower and higher than those of disks. We demonstrate that changing particle anisotropy tunes what we define as a “collision efficiency” of inter-particle collisions in leading to motility-induced phase separation (MIPS) of the system. We use this efficiency to determine the relative critical density across systems. Additionally, we observe that local structure in phase-separated clusters is the same as the particle's equilibrium densest packing, suggesting a general connection between equilibrium behavior and non-equilibrium cluster structure of self-propelled anisotropic particles. In engineering applications for active colloidal systems, shape-controlled steric interactions such as those described here may offer a simple route for tailoring emergent behaviors.