Polarization and interactions of colloidal particles in ac electric fields. Academic Article uri icon


  • Micrometer-sized polystyrene particles form two-dimensional crystals in alternating current (ac) electric fields. The induced dipole-dipole interaction is the dominant force that drives this assembly. We report measurements of forces between colloidal particles in ac electric fields using optical tweezers and find good agreement with the point dipole model. The magnitude of the pair interaction forces depends strongly on the bulk solution conductivity and decreases as the ionic strength increases. The forces also decrease with increasing field frequency. The salt and frequency dependences are consistent with double layer polarization with a characteristic relaxation frequency omega(CD) approximately a(2)/D, where a is the particle radius and D is the ion diffusivity. This enables us to reinterpret the order-disorder transition reported for micrometer-sized polystyrene particles [Lumsdon et al., Langmuir 20, 2108 (2004)], including the dependence on particle size, frequency, and ionic strength. These results provide a rational framework for identifying assembly conditions of colloidal particles in ac fields over a wide range of parameters.

published proceedings

  • J Chem Phys

author list (cited authors)

  • Mittal, M., Lele, P. P., Kaler, E. W., & Furst, E. M.

citation count

  • 89

complete list of authors

  • Mittal, Manish||Lele, Pushkar P||Kaler, Eric W||Furst, Eric M

publication date

  • August 2008