Geometric tuning of self-propulsion for Janus catalytic particles

Michelin, S ; Lauga, Eric Jean-Marie (2017-02-13)


Catalytic swimmers have attracted much attention as alternatives to biological systems for examining collective microscopic dynamics and the response to physico-chemical signals. Yet, understanding and predicting even the most fundamental characteristics of their individual propulsion still raises important challenges. While chemical asymmetry is widely recognized as the cornerstone of catalytic propulsion, different experimental studies have reported that particles with identical chemical properties may propel in opposite directions. Here, we show that, beyond its chemical properties, the detailed shape of a catalytic swimmer plays an essential role in determining its direction of motion, demonstrating the compatibility of the classical theoretical framework with experimental observations.