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Simulation of Active Brownian Motion published in Am. J. Phys.

Simulation of the active Brownian motion of a microswimmer

Simulation of the active Brownian motion of a microswimmer
Giorgio Volpe, Sylvain Gigan & Giovanni Volpe
American Journal of Physics 82(7), 659—664 (2014)
DOI: 10.1119/1.4870398

Unlike passive Brownian particles, active Brownian particles, also known as microswimmers, propel themselves with directed motion and thus drive themselves out of equilibrium. Understanding their motion can provide insight into out-of-equilibrium phenomena associated with biological examples such as bacteria, as well as with artificial microswimmers. We discuss how to mathematically model their motion using a set of stochastic differential equations and how to numerically simulate it using the corresponding set of finite difference equations both in homogenous and complex environments. In particular, we show how active Brownian particles do not follow the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution—a clear signature of their out-of-equilibrium nature—and how, unlike passive Brownian particles, microswimmers can be funneled, trapped, and sorted.

Brownian Motion in a Speckle Light Field published in Sci. Rep.

Brownian motion in a speckle light field: Tunable anomalous diffusion and selective optical manipulation

Brownian motion in a speckle light field: Tunable anomalous diffusion and selective optical manipulation
Giorgio Volpe, Giovanni Volpe & Sylvain Gigan
Scientific Reports 4, 3936 (2014)
DOI: 10.1038/srep03936
arXiv: 1304.1433

The motion of particles in random potentials occurs in several natural phenomena ranging from the mobility of organelles within a biological cell to the diffusion of stars within a galaxy. A Brownian particle moving in the random optical potential associated to a speckle pattern, i.e., a complex interference pattern generated by the scattering of coherent light by a random medium, provides an ideal model system to study such phenomena. Here, we derive a theory for the motion of a Brownian particle in a speckle field and, in particular, we identify its universal characteristic timescale. Based on this theoretical insight, we show how speckle light fields can be used to control the anomalous diffusion of a Brownian particle and to perform some basic optical manipulation tasks such as guiding and sorting. Our results might broaden the perspectives of optical manipulation for real-life applications.

Review on Optical Trapping of Nanostructures published in Nature Nanotech.

Optical trapping and manipulation of nanostructures

Optical trapping and manipulation of nanostructures
Onofrio M. Maragò, Philip H. Jones, Pietro Gucciardi, Giovanni Volpe & Andrea Ferrari
Nature Nanotechnology 8(11), 807—819 (2013)
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2013.208

Optical trapping and manipulation of micrometre-sized particles was first reported in 1970. Since then, it has been successfully implemented in two size ranges: the subnanometre scale, where light–matter mechanical coupling enables cooling of atoms, ions and molecules, and the micrometre scale, where the momentum transfer resulting from light scattering allows manipulation of microscopic objects such as cells. But it has been difficult to apply these techniques to the intermediate — nanoscale — range that includes structures such as quantum dots, nanowires, nanotubes, graphene and two-dimensional crystals, all of crucial importance for nanomaterials-based applications. Recently, however, several new approaches have been developed and demonstrated for trapping plasmonic nanoparticles, semiconductor nanowires and carbon nanostructures. Here we review the state-of-the-art in optical trapping at the nanoscale, with an emphasis on some of the most promising advances, such as controlled manipulation and assembly of individual and multiple nanostructures, force measurement with femtonewton resolution, and biosensors.

Stratonovich-to-Itô Transition published in Nature Commun.

Stratonovich-to-Itô transition in noisy systems with multiplicative feedback

Stratonovich-to-Itô transition in noisy systems with multiplicative feedback
Giuseppe Pesce, Austin McDaniel, Scott Hottovy, Jan Wehr & Giovanni Volpe
Nature Communications 4, 2733 (2013)
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3733
arXiv: 1206.6271

Intrinsically noisy mechanisms drive most physical, biological and economic phenomena. Frequently, the system’s state influences the driving noise intensity (multiplicative feedback). These phenomena are often modelled using stochastic differential equations, which can be interpreted according to various conventions (for example, Itô calculus and Stratonovich calculus), leading to qualitatively different solutions. Thus, a stochastic differential equation–convention pair must be determined from the available experimental data before being able to predict the system’s behaviour under new conditions. Here we experimentally demonstrate that the convention for a given system may vary with the operational conditions: we show that a noisy electric circuit shifts from obeying Stratonovich calculus to obeying Itô calculus. We track such a transition to the underlying dynamics of the system and, in particular, to the ratio between the driving noise correlation time and the feedback delay time. We discuss possible implications of our conclusions, supported by numerics, for biology and economics.

Sorting of Chiral Microswimmers published in Soft Matter

Sorting of chiral microswimmers

Sorting of chiral microswimmers (Cover article)
Mite Mijalkov & Giovanni Volpe
Soft Matter 9(28), 6376—6381 (2013)
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM27923E
arXiv: 1212.6504

Microscopic swimmers, e.g., chemotactic bacteria and cells, are capable of directed motion by exerting a force on their environment. For asymmetric microswimmers, e.g., bacteria, spermatozoa and many artificial active colloidal particles, a torque is also present leading to circular motion (in two dimensions) and to helicoidal motion (in three dimensions) with a well-defined chirality. Here, we demonstrate with numerical simulations in two dimensions how the chirality of circular motion couples to chiral features present in the microswimmer environment. Levogyre and dextrogyre microswimmers as small as 50 nm can be separated and selectively trapped in chiral flowers of ellipses. Patterned microchannels can be used as funnels to rectify the microswimmer motion, as sorters to separate microswimmers based on their linear and angular velocities, and as sieves to trap microswimmers with specific parameters. We also demonstrate that these results can be extended to helicoidal motion in three dimensions.

Circular Microswimmers published in Phys. Rev. Lett.

Circular motion of asymmetric self-propelling particles

Circular motion of asymmetric self-propelling particles
Felix Kümmel, Borge ten Hagen, Raphael Wittkowski, Ivo Buttinoni, Giovanni Volpe, Hartmut Löwen & Clemens Bechinger
Physical Review Letters 110(19), 198302 (2013)
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.198302
arXiv: 1302.5787

See also Reply to comment on “Circular motion of asymmetric self-propelling particles”, Physical Review Letters 113(2), 029802 (2014)

Micron-sized self-propelled (active) particles can be considered as model systems for characterizing more complex biological organisms like swimming bacteria or motile cells. We produce asymmetric microswimmers by soft lithography and study their circular motion on a substrate and near channel boundaries. Our experimental observations are in full agreement with a theory of Brownian dynamics for asymmetric self-propelled particles, which couples their translational and orientational motion.

Featured in “Synopsis: Round and Round in Circles”, Physics (May 9, 2013)

Simulation of a Particle in an Optical Trap published in Am. J. Phys.

Simulation of a Brownian particle in an optical trap

Simulation of a Brownian particle in an optical trap
Giorgio Volpe & Giovanni Volpe
American Journal of Physics 81(3), 224—230 (2013)
DOI: 10.1119/1.4772632

An optically trapped Brownian particle is a sensitive probe of molecular and nanoscopic forces. An understanding of its motion, which is caused by the interplay of random and deterministic contributions, can lead to greater physical insight into the behavior of stochastic phenomena. The modeling of realistic stochastic processes typically requires advanced mathematical tools. We discuss a finite difference algorithm to compute the motion of an optically trapped particle and the numerical treatment of the white noise term. We then treat the transition from the ballistic to the diffusive regime due to the presence of inertial effects on short time scales and examine the effect of an optical trap on the motion of the particle. We also outline how to use simulations of optically trapped Brownian particles to gain understanding of nanoscale force and torque measurements, and of more complex phenomena, such as Kramers transitions, stochastic resonant damping, and stochastic resonance.

Thermophoresis Driven by Coloured Noise published in EPL

Thermophoresis of Brownian particles driven by coloured noise

Thermophoresis of Brownian particles driven by coloured noise
Scott Hottovy, Giovanni Volpe & Jan Wehr
EPL (Europhysics Letters) 99(6), 60002 (2012)
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/99/60002
arXiv: 1205.1093

Brownian motion of microscopic particles is driven by collisions with surrounding fluid molecules. The resulting noise is not white, but coloured, due, e.g., to the presence of hydrodynamic memory. The noise characteristic time-scale is typically of the same order of magnitude as the inertial time-scale over which the particle’s kinetic energy is lost due to friction. We demonstrate theoretically that, in the presence of a temperature gradient, the interplay between these two characteristic time-scales can have measurable consequences on the particle’s long-time behaviour. Using homogenization theory, we analyse the infinitesimal generator of the stochastic differential equation describing the system in the limit where the two time-scales are taken to zero keeping their ratio constant and derive the thermophoretic transport coefficient, which, we find, can vary in both magnitude and sign, as observed in experiments. Studying the long-term stationary particle distribution, we show that particles accumulate towards the colder (positive thermophoresis) or the hotter (negative thermophoresis) regions depending on their physical parameters.

Active Brownian Motion Tunable by Light published in J. Phys. Condens. Matter

Active Brownian motion tunable by light

Active Brownian motion tunable by light
Ivo Buttinoni, Giovanni Volpe, Felix Kümmel, Giorgio Volpe & Clemens Bechinger
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 24(28), 284129 (2012)
DOI: 10.1088/0953-8984/24/28/284129
arXiv: 1110.2202

Active Brownian particles are capable of taking up energy from their environment and converting it into directed motion; examples range from chemotactic cells and bacteria to artificial micro-swimmers. We have recently demonstrated that Janus particles, i.e. gold-capped colloidal spheres, suspended in a critical binary liquid mixture perform active Brownian motion when illuminated by light. In this paper, we investigate in more detail their swimming mechanism, leading to active Brownian motion. We show that the illumination-borne heating induces a local asymmetric demixing of the binary mixture, generating a spatial chemical concentration gradient which is responsible for the particle’s self-diffusiophoretic motion. We study this effect as a function of the functionalization of the gold cap, the particle size and the illumination intensity: the functionalization determines what component of the binary mixture is preferentially adsorbed at the cap and the swimming direction (towards or away from the cap); the particle size determines the rotational diffusion and, therefore, the random reorientation of the particle; and the intensity tunes the strength of the heating and, therefore, of the motion. Finally, we harness this dependence of the swimming strength on the illumination intensity to investigate the behavior of a micro-swimmer in a spatial light gradient, where its swimming properties are space-dependent.

Noise-induced drift in SDEs published in J. Stat. Phys.

Noise-induced drift in stochastic differential equations with arbitrary friction and diffusion in the Smoluchowski-Kramers limit

Noise-induced drift in stochastic differential equations with arbitrary friction and diffusion in the Smoluchowski-Kramers limit
Scott Hottovy, Giovanni Volpe & Jan Wehr
Journal of Statistical Physics 146(4), 762—773 (2012)
DOI: 10.1007/s10955-012-0418-9
arXiv: 1112.2607

We consider the dynamics of systems with arbitrary friction and diffusion. These include, as a special case, systems for which friction and diffusion are connected by Einstein fluctuation-dissipation relation, e.g. Brownian motion. We study the limit where friction effects dominate the inertia, i.e. where the mass goes to zero (Smoluchowski-Kramers limit). Using the Itô stochastic integral convention, we show that the limiting effective Langevin equations has different drift fields depending on the relation between friction and diffusion. Alternatively, our results can be cast as different interpretations of stochastic integration in the limiting equation, which can be parametrized by α∈ℝ. Interestingly, in addition to the classical Itô (α=0), Stratonovich (α=0.5) and anti-Itô (α=1) integrals, we show that position-dependent α=α(x), and even stochastic integrals with α∉[0,1] arise. Our findings are supported by numerical simulations.