Active interaction switching controls the dynamic heterogeneity of soft colloidal dispersions
We employ Reactive Dynamical Density Functional Theory (R-DDFT) and Reactive Brownian Dynamics (R-BD) simulations to investigate the dynamics of a suspension of active soft Gaussian colloids with binary interaction switching, i.e., a one-component colloidal system in which every particle stochastically switches at predefined rates between two interaction states with different mobility. Using R-DDFT we extend a theory previously developed to access the dynamics of inhomogeneous liquids [Archer et al., Phys. Rev. E: Stat., Nonlinear, Soft Matter Phys., 2007, 75, 040501] to study the influence of the switching activity on the self and distinct part of the Van Hove function in bulk solution, and determine the corresponding mean squared displacement of the switching particles. Our results demonstrate that, even though the average diffusion coefficient is not affected by the switching activity, it significantly modifies the non-equilibrium dynamics and diffusion coefficients of the individual particles, leading to a crossover from short to long times, with a regime for intermediate times showing anomalous diffusion. In addition, the self-part of the van Hove function has a Gaussian form at short and long times, but becomes non-Gaussian at intermediates ones, having a crossover between short and large displacements. The corresponding self-intermediate scattering function shows the two-step relaxation patters typically observed in soft materials with heterogeneous dynamics such as glasses and gels. We also introduce a phenomenological Continuous Time Random Walk (CTRW) theory to understand the heterogeneous diffusion of this system. R-DDFT results are in excellent agreement with R-BD simulations and the analytical predictions of CTRW theory, thus confirming that R-DDFT constitutes a powerful method to investigate not only the structure and phase behavior, but also the dynamical properties of non-equilibrium active switching colloidal suspensions.