Microscale Marangoni Surfers

Kilian Dietrich, Nick Jaensson, Ivo Buttinoni, Giorgio Volpe & Lucio Isa
Highlighted in Physics

We apply laser light to induce the asymmetric heating of Janus colloids adsorbed at water-oil interfaces and realize active micrometric “Marangoni surfers.” The coupling of temperature and surfactant concentration gradients generates Marangoni stresses leading to self-propulsion. Particle velocities span 4 orders of magnitude, from microns/s to cm/s, depending on laser power and surfactant concentration. Experiments are rationalized by finite elements simulations, defining different propulsion regimes relative to the magnitude of the thermal and solutal Marangoni stress components.

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