Regular Article

The European Physical Journal E

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 27-36

First online:

Generic theory of colloidal transport

  • F. JülicherAffiliated withMax-Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Nöthnitzerstr. 38 Email author 
  • , J. ProstAffiliated withESPCIInstitut Curie, Physicochimie Curie

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We discuss the motion of colloidal particles relative to a two-component fluid consisting of solvent and solute. Particle motion can result from i) net body forces on the particle due to external fields such as gravity; ii) slip velocities on the particle surface due to surface dissipative phenomena. The perturbations of the hydrodynamic flow field exhibit characteristic differences in cases i) and ii) which reflect different patterns of momentum flux corresponding to the existence of net forces, force dipoles or force quadrupoles. In the absence of external fields, gradients of concentration or pressure do not generate net forces on a colloidal particle. Such gradients can nevertheless induce relative motion between particle and fluid. We present a generic description of surface dissipative phenomena based on the linear response of surface fluxes driven by conjugate surface forces. In this framework we discuss different transport scenarios including self-propulsion via surface slip that is induced by active processes on the particle surface. We clarify the nature of force balances in such situations.


65.20.De General theory of thermodynamic properties of liquids, including computer simulation 05.60.-k Transport processes 47.10.-g General theory in fluid dynamics 87.16.Uv Active transport processes