The Behavior of Active Diffusiophoretic Suspensions: An Accelerated Laplacian Dynamics Study


Diffusiophoresis is the process by which a colloidal particle moves in response to the concentration gradient of a chemical solute. Chemically active particles generate solute concentration gradients via surface chemical reactions which can result in their own motion – the self-diffusiophoresis of Janus particles – and in the motion of other nearby particles – normal down-gradient diffusiophoresis. The long-range nature of the concentration disturbance created by a reactive particle results in strong interactions among particles and can lead to the formation of clusters and even coexisting dense and dilute regions often seen in active matter systems. In this work, we present a general method to determine the many-particle solute concentration field allowing the dynamic simulation of the motion of thousands of reactive particles. With the simulation method, we first clarify and demonstrate the notion of ‘‘chemical screening,’’ whereby the long-ranged interactions become exponentially screened, which is essential for otherwise diffusiophoretic suspensions would be unconditionally unstable. Simulations show that uniformly reactive particles, which do not self-propel, form loosely packed clusters but no coexistence is observed. The simulations also reveal that there is a stability threshold – when the ‘‘chemical fuel’’ concentration is low enough, thermal Brownian motion is able to overcome diffusiophoretic attraction. Janus particles that self-propel show coexistence, but, interestingly, the stability threshold for clustering is not affected by the self-motion.

The Journal of Chemical Physics