News / Highlights / Colloquium
- Published on 02 September 2022
Thermal gradients induce thermodiffusion in aqueous solutions and liquid mixtures and thermophoretic forces that drive the motion of colloids towards hot or cold regions. The Soret coefficient quantifies the strength of the thermophoretic force and varies with temperature, colloid mass and diameter, and colloid-solvent interactions. Janus colloids (JCs ) are nanoparticles with heterogeneous compositions and two contrasting properties, or "two faces" like the Roman god Janus. For example, in spherical JCs, one hemisphere might be hydrophilic and the other hydrophobic. The interest in JCs has grown steadily given their applicability in materials science. While the behaviour of JCs under equilibrium conditions has been explored, their response to thermal gradients is still not fully understood. Explaining the behaviour of JCs in a thermal field might expand their use in materials science and biomedical applications.
- Published on 15 August 2022
By simulating a liquid confined by a nanoscale structure, researchers discovered the role molecular clogging plays in friction.
The dynamics of how liquids behave when confined in a nanoscale-sized space such as nanochannels, nanotubes or nanopores, is key to understanding a wealth of processes including lubrication, filtration and even energy storage.
The dynamics of liquids at nanoscales are different to behaviour in confinement at macroscales, however. One of the key differences that a reduction in scale creates is friction and shear between the liquid and its solid container. And further complications arise in systems with solid-to-solid contact with features like wear, micro-pitting and scuffing created.
A new paper published in EPJ E and authored by Shan Chen, from the State Key Laboratory of Organic-Inorganic Composites at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China, uses simulations of molecular dynamics to look at the friction-induced nano-confined liquids.
- Published on 14 June 2022
When a homogeneous mixture is subjected to a thermal gradient, the fluid components are partially separated because of the temperature gradient. This phenomenon, known since the mid-19th century, is called thermodiffusion, the Soret effect or thermophoresis. Despite its relatively small amplitude it impacts many natural systems, such as the salinity gradient in ocean or even pre-biological evolution, and can be exploited in applications ranging from the manipulation of biological macromolecules to isotope enrichment. However, despite numerous attempts by leading researchers, including some Nobel laureates, a full understanding of the microscopic origin of this subtle phenomenon is still lacking and there is no consensus on which model, among the numerous existing ones, is the most reliable to quantify it in dense phases.
- Published on 24 May 2022
The understanding of the clustering and movement of microswimmers has a range of applications from human health to tackling ecological problems.
Microswimmers are biological entities that range from sperm to phytoplankton to bacteria, meaning that their study can have implications for fields in science as diverse as human health and ecology.
A new paper published in EPJ E looks at the dynamics of microswimmers under gravity. It is authored by a team from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Berlin Institute of Technology: Felix Rühle, Arne W. Zantop, and Holger Stark.
EPJ E Highlight - The relationship between active areas and boundaries with energy input in snapping shells
- Published on 05 April 2022
New research looks at how the geometry of shells relates to the energy input required to actuate snap-through instability.
In nature, diverse organisms such as the hummingbird and Venus flytrap use rapid snapping motions to capture prey, inspiring engineers to create designs that function using snap-through instability of shell structures. Snapping rapidly releases stored elastic energy and does not require a continuously applied stimulus to maintain an inverted shape in bistable structures.
A new paper published in EPJ E authored by Lucia Stein-Montalvo, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, and Douglas P. Holmes, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, along with co-authors Jeong-Ho Lee, Yi Yang, Melanie Landesberg, and Harold S. Park, examines how restricting the active area of the shell boundary allows for a large reduction in its size, and decreases the energy input required to actuate snap-through behaviour in the shell to guide the design of efficient snapping structures.
- Published on 08 December 2021
The publishers of European Physical Journal E: Soft Matter and Biological Physics are delighted to announce the appointment of Prof Giovanna Fragneto as Editor-in-Chief, starting January 1 2022. Prof Fragneto has served on the Editorial Board of EPJE since 2011, and takes over the EiC role from Prof François Graner, who steps down at the end of this year.
- Published on 29 November 2021
- Published on 16 November 2021
Water, regarded as the matrix of life, is an ubiquitous and peculiar liquid that exhibits a plethora of anomalous properties, both in its stable and metastable bulk states, which fostered a lot of experimental and theoretical studies. Less explored is the field of water and aqueous systems confined in nanoporous materials that, in addition to its fundamental interest, are present in a number of practical situations, including biological and separation processes and energy generation and storage, among others. These facts have triggered a vast amount of research that, so far, has not been conveniently reviewed.
- Published on 12 July 2021
A combination of two simulation techniques has allowed researchers to investigate how swimming microparticles propel themselves through ‘nematic liquid crystals’ – revealing some unusual behaviours
Artificial microswimmers have received much attention in recent years. By mimicking microbes which convert their surrounding energy into swimming motions, these particles could soon be exploited for many important applications. Yet before this can happen, researchers must develop methods to better control the trajectories of individual microswimmers in complex environments. In a new study published in EPJ E, Shubhadeep Mandal at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (India), and Marco Mazza at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organisation in Göttingen (Germany) and Loughborough University (UK), show how this control could be achieved using exotic materials named ‘nematic liquid crystals’ (LCs) – whose viscosity and elasticity can vary depending on the direction of an applied force.
- Published on 31 March 2021
New experiments reveal the characteristic ways in which self-propelled ‘Janus particles’ with charged coatings will slide across or move away from charged boundaries in their surrounding environments.
By harvesting energy from their surrounding environments, particles named ‘artificial micromotors’ can propel themselves in specific directions when placed in aqueous solutions. In current research, a popular choice of micromotor is the spherical ‘Janus particle’ – featuring two distinct sides with different physical properties. Until now, however, few studies have explored how these particles interact with other objects in their surrounding microenvironments. In an experiment detailed in EPJ E, researchers in Germany and The Netherlands, led by Larysa Baraban at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, show for the first time how the velocities of Janus particles relate to the physical properties of nearby barriers.