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Phys Rev Lett. 2008 Apr 18;100(15):158303. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Osmotic propulsion: the osmotic motor.

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Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


A model for self-propulsion of a colloidal particle--the osmotic motor--immersed in a dispersion of "bath" particles is presented. The nonequilibrium concentration of bath particles induced by a surface chemical reaction creates an osmotic pressure imbalance on the motor causing it to move. The ratio of the speed of reaction to that of diffusion governs the bath particle distribution which is employed to calculate the driving force on the motor, and from which the self-induced osmotic velocity is determined. For slow reactions, the self-propulsion is proportional to the reaction velocity. When surface reaction dominates over diffusion the osmotic velocity cannot exceed the diffusive speed of the bath particles. Implications of these features for different bath particle volume fractions and motor sizes are discussed. Theoretical predictions are compared with Brownian dynamics simulations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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