Two-particle dynamics on an electrode in ac electric fields.

Kim J, Guelcher SA, Garoff S, Anderson JL
Adv Colloid Interface Sci. 2002 96 (1-3): 131-42

PMID: 11908784 · DOI:10.1016/s0001-8686(01)00078-1

The relative motion between pairs of negatively charged latex particles 9.7 microm in diameter and deposited on an electrode was measured by optical microscopy and image analysis. At an rms field of approximately 30 V cm(-1), the two particles moved toward each other at frequencies below 500 Hz, but they separated at 1000 Hz. In the cases of aggregation, there are several interesting characteristics. First, when the center-to-center separation of a pair was initially 6 particle radii or more apart, a transient 'incubation' period of tens of seconds was observed before the particles began to move toward each other. Second, the two particles never came into contact, rather at long times the pair maintained a stationary gap between them equal to approximately one-half the particle radius. This stationary gap between particles was also observed for the aggregation of clusters of three or more particles. Finally, the rate of approach for a pair of particles decreased as the frequency increased. Larger fields are required to move particles together in ac compared to dc fields; at 30 Hz the ac field must be 130 times greater than the dc field to achieve the same rate of approach. Taking advantage of the qualitative and quantitative differences of the cooperative motion of particles in dc vs. ac fields, one should be able to re-position particles by alternating between these two modes. We demonstrated that the same pair of particles can be brought together at low frequency (100 or 200 Hz) and then separated at high frequency (1000 Hz).

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