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Physical Review E


The electric-field-assisted directed assembly of spherical colloidal particles near an electrode has been studied for nearly three decades. Recently, focus has shifted to the electric-field-assisted assembly and propulsion of nonspherical (i.e., anisotropic) particles. This paper describes calculations and results for a doublet of asymmetric ζ potential and size responding to a dc electric field. The doublet experienced a net vertical force that depended on both the asymmetry in ζ potential and lobe size. In addition, the doublet experienced a net lateral force perpendicular to the applied electric field. The lateral force depended on the difference in ζ potential of the two lobes, the lobe size asymmetry, and also the angle of inclination of the doublet. The net force was used to predict an apparent lateral velocity, which was found to be perpendicular to the applied electric field. In addition, the particle experienced rotation from a net torque that depended on the lobe size asymmetry and also the angle of inclination of the doublet. The magnitude of the predicted velocity was of the same order of magnitude as has been observed for particles responding to ac electric fields in experiments. These results demonstrate that lobe ζ potential, lobe size, and orientation of a colloidal doublet can be tuned to achieve propulsion.


This work was supported by the Cleveland State University Office of Research Startup Fund and also the Faculty Research Development Fund.

Original Citation

Wirth CL, Nuthalapati SH. Response of a doublet to a nearby dc electrode of uniform potential. Phys Rev E. 2016;94:042614.