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Friction in liquids arises from conservative forces between molecules and atoms. Although the hydrodynamics at the nanoscale is subject of intense research and despite the enormous interest in the non-Markovian dynamics of single molecules and solutes, the onset of friction from the atomistic scale so far could not be demonstrated. Here, we fill this gap based on frequency-resolved friction data from high-precision simulations of three prototypical liquids, including water. Combining with theory, we show that friction in liquids emerges abruptly at a characteristic frequency, beyond which viscous liquids appear as non-dissipative, elastic solids. Concomitantly, the molecules experience Brownian forces that display persistent correlations. A critical test of the generalised Stokes–Einstein relation, mapping the friction of single molecules to the visco-elastic response of the macroscopic sample, disproves the relation for Newtonian fluids, but substantiates it exemplarily for water and a moderately supercooled liquid. The employed approach is suitable to yield insights into vitrification mechanisms and the intriguing mechanical properties of soft materials.

A colloidal particle is driven across a temporally oscillating one-dimensional optical potential energy landscape and its particle motion is analysed. Different modes of dynamic mode locking are observed and are confirmed with the use of phase portraits. The effect of the oscillation frequency on the mode locked step width is addressed and the results are discussed in light of a high-frequency theory and compared to simulations. Furthermore, the influence of the coupling between the particle and the optical landscape on mode locking is probed by increasing the maximum depth of the optical landscape. Stronger coupling is seen to increase the width of mode locked steps. Finally, transport across the temporally oscillating landscape is studied by measuring the effective diffusion coefficient of a mobile particle, which is seen to be highly sensitive to the driving velocity and mode locking.

We present a theoretical framework to understand the collective dynamics of an ensemble of electrophoretically driven colloidal particles that are forced to assemble around a single topological defect in a nematic liquid crystal by an alternating current electric field. Our generic model combines phoretic propulsion with electrostatic interactions and liquid-crystal-mediated hydrodynamics, which are effectively cast into a long-range interparticle repulsion, while nematic elasticity plays a subdominant role. Simulations based on this model fully capture the collective organization process observed in the experiments and other striking effects as the emergence of conformal ordering and a nearly frequency-independent repulsive interaction above 10Hz. Our results demonstrate the importance of hydrodynamic interactions on the assembly of driven microscale matter in anisotropic media.

We investigate the directional locking effects that arise when a monolayer of paramagnetic colloidal particles is driven across a triangular lattice of magnetic bubbles. We use an external rotating magnetic field to generate a two-dimensional traveling wave ratchet forcing the transport of particles along a direction that intersects two crystallographic axes of the lattice. We find that, while single particles show no preferred direction, collective effects induce transversal current and directional locking at high density via a spontaneous symmetry breaking. The colloidal current may be polarized via an additional bias field that makes one transport direction energetically preferred.

The stable assembly of fluctuating nanoparticle clusters on a surface represents a technological challenge of widespread interest for both fundamental and applied research. Here we demonstrate a technique to stably confine in two dimensions clusters of interacting nanoparticles via size-tunable, virtual magnetic traps. We use cylindrical Bloch walls arranged to form a triangular lattice of ferromagnetic domains within an epitaxially grown ferrite garnet film. At each domain, the magnetic stray field generates an effective harmonic potential with a field tunable stifness. The experiments are combined with theory to show that the magnetic confinement is effectively harmonic and pairwise interactions are of dipolar nature, leading to central, strictly repulsive forces. For clusters of magnetic nanoparticles, the stationary collective states arise from the competition between repulsion, confinement and the tendency to fill the central potential well. Using a numerical simulation model as a quantitative map between the experiment and theory we explore the field-induced crystallization process for larger clusters and unveil the existence of three different dynamical regimes. The present method provides a model platform for investigations of the collective phenomena emerging when strongly confined nanoparticle clusters are forced to move in an idealized, harmonic-like potential.

The urea-urease clock reaction is a pH switch from acid to basic that can turn into a pH oscillator if it occurs inside a suitable open reactor. We numerically study the confinement of the reaction to lipid vesicles, which permit the exchange with an external reservoir by differential transport, enabling the recovery of the pH level and yielding a constant supply of urea molecules. For microscopically small vesicles, the discreteness of the number of molecules requires a stochastic treatment of the reaction dynamics. Our analysis shows that intrinsic noise induces a significant statistical variation of the oscillation period, which increases as the vesicles become smaller.
The mean period, however, is found to be remarkably robust for vesicle sizes down to approximately 200 nm, but the periodicity of the rhythm is gradually destroyed for smaller vesicles. The observed oscillations are explained as a canard-like limit cycle that differs from the wide class of conventional feedback oscillators.

This theoretical study concerns a pH oscillator based on the urea-urease reaction confined to giant lipid vesicles. Under suitable conditions, differential transport of urea and hydrogen ion across the unilamellar vesicle membrane periodically resets the pH clock that switches the system from acid to basic, resulting in self-sustained oscillations. We analyse the structure of the phase flow and of the limit cycle, which controls the dynamics for giant vesicles and dominates the pronouncedly stochastic oscillations in small vesicles of submicrometer size. To this end, we derive reduced models, which are amenable to analytic treatments that are complemented by numerical solutions, and obtain the period and amplitude of the oscillations as well as the parameter domain, where oscillatory behavior persists. We show that the accuracy of these predictions is highly sensitive to the employed reduction scheme. In particular, we suggest an accurate two-variable model and show its equivalence to a three-variable model that admits an interpretation in terms of a chemical reaction network. The faithful modeling of a single pH oscillator appears crucial for rationalizing experiments and understanding communication of vesicles and synchronization of rhythms.

A depinning transition is observed in a variety of contexts when a certain threshold force must be applied to drive a system out of an immobile state. A well-studied example is the depinning of colloidal particles from a corrugated landscape, whereas its active-matter analogue has remained unexplored. We discuss how active noise due to self-propulsion impacts the nature of the transition: it causes a change of the critical exponent from 1/2 for quickly reorienting particles to 3/2 for slowly reorienting ones. In between these analytically tractable limits, the drift velocity exhibits a superexponential behavior as is corroborated by high-precision data. Giant diffusion phenomena occur in the two different regimes. Our predictions appear amenable to experimental tests, lay foundations for insight into the depinning of collective variables in active matter, and are relevant for any system with a saddle-node bifurcation in the presence of a bounded noise.

In our combined experimental, theoretical and numerical work, we study the out of equilibrium deformations in a shrinking ring of optically trapped, interacting colloidal particles. Steerable optical tweezers are used to confine dielectric microparticles along a circle of discrete harmonic potential wells, and to reduce the ring radius at a controlled quench speed. We show that excluded-volume interactions are enough to induce particle sliding from their equilibrium positions and nonequilibrium zigzag roughening of the colloidal structure. Our work unveils the underlying mechanism of interfacial deformation in radially driven microscopic discrete rings.