Bistable colloidal orientation near a charged surface

Mohit Singh, Yoav Tsori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anisotropic particles oriented in a specific direction can act as artificial atoms and molecules, and their controlled assembly can result in a wide variety of ordered structures. Towards this, we demonstrate the orientation transitions of uncharged peanut-shaped polystyrene colloids, suspended in a non-ionic aprotic polar solvent, near a flat surface whose potential is static or time-varying. The charged surface is coated with an insulating dielectric layer to suppress electric currents. The transition between several orientation states such as random, normal or parallel orientation with respect to the surface, is examined for two different colloid sizes at low-frequency (~ 10 − 350 kHz) or static fields, and at small electric potentials. In time-varying (AC) field, a detailed phase diagram in the potential-frequency plane indicating the transition between particles parallel or normal to the surface is reported. We next present the first study of orientation switching in static (DC) fields, where no electro-osmotic or other flow is present. A reversible change between the two colloidal states is explained by a theory showing that the sum of electrostatic and gravitational energies of the colloid is bistable. The number of colloids in each of the two states depends on the external potential, particle and solvent permittivities, particle aspect ratio, and distance from the electrode.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129834
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2022


  • Bistability
  • Charged surface
  • Colloids
  • Electric field
  • Torque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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