Active colloid with externally induced periodic bipolar motility and its cooperative motion†
Active matter physics has been developed with various types of self-propelled particles, including those with polar and bipolar motility and beyond. However, the bipolar motions experimentally realized so far have been either random along the axis or periodic at intrinsic frequencies. Here we report another kind of bipolar active particles, whose periodic bipolar self-propulsion is set externally at a controllable frequency. We used Quincke rollers—dielectric particles suspended in a conducting liquid driven by an electric field—under an AC electric field instead of the usually used DC field. Reciprocating motion of a single particle at the external frequency was observed experimentally and characterized theoretically as stable periodic motion. Experimentally, we observed not only the reciprocating motion but also non-trivial active Brownian particle (ABP)-like persistent motion in a long time scale. This resulted in a Lorentzian spectrum around zero frequency, which is not accounted for by a simple extension of the conventional model of Quincke rollers to the AC field. It was found that ABP-like motion can be reproduced by considering the top-bottom asymmetry in the experimental system. Moreover, we found a rotational diffusion coefficient much larger than the thermal one, as also reported in previous experiments, which may have resulted from roughness of the electrode surface. We also found self-organized formation of small clusters, such as doublets and triplets, and characterized cooperative motion of particles therein. The AC Quincke rollers reported here may serve as a model experimental system of bipolar active matter, which appears to deserve further investigations.