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Sci Rep. 2012;2:1015. doi: 10.1038/srep01015. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Non-monotonic crossover from single-file to regular diffusion in micro-channels.

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Department of Physics, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.


The diffusion behavior of interacting particles determines the behavior of a large number of systems ranging from pedestrians crossing a road to ions passing through channels in living cells. Here we present a system in which the nature of the diffusion process varies with changes in the external conditions. We find this special behavior in a colloidal model system, consisting of micron sized particles which are confined to narrow channels and interact via induced magnetic dipoles. When the density of these particles is changed, diffusion alternates between normal Fickian behavior and single-file diffusion. This anomalous behavior is induced by the order of the particles in the restricted geometry and does not depend on the exact nature of the inter-particle interactions.

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