skip to main content


Title: Active turbulence in a gas of self-assembled spinners

Colloidal particles subject to an external periodic forcing exhibit complex collective behavior and self-assembled patterns. A dispersion of magnetic microparticles confined at the air-liquid interface and energized by a uniform uniaxial alternating magnetic field exhibits dynamic arrays of self-assembled spinners rotating in either direction. Here, we report on experimental and simulation studies of active turbulence and transport in a gas of self-assembled spinners. We show that the spinners, emerging as a result of spontaneous symmetry breaking of clock/counterclockwise rotation of self-assembled particle chains, generate vigorous vortical flows at the interface. An ensemble of spinners exhibits chaotic dynamics due to self-generated advection flows. The same-chirality spinners (clockwise or counterclock-wise) show a tendency to aggregate and form dynamic clusters. Emergent self-induced interface currents promote active diffusion that could be tuned by the parameters of the external excitation field. Furthermore, the erratic motion of spinners at the interface generates chaotic fluid flow reminiscent of 2D turbulence. As a result, our work provides insight into fundamental aspects of collective transport in active spinner materials and yields rules for particle manipulation at the microscale.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [3] ;  [1]
  1. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  2. Forschungszentrum Julich, Julich (Germany)
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States); Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 114; Journal Issue: 49; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS; active turbulence; magnetic colloids; self-assembly; spinners
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1415485