Frequency-controlled electrophoretic mobility of a particle within a porous, hollow shell

Tom A.J. Welling*, Albert Grau-Carbonell, Kanako Watanabe, Daisuke Nagao, Joost de Graaf, Marijn A. van Huis, Alfons van Blaaderen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The unique properties of yolk-shell or rattle-type particles make them promising candidates for applications ranging from switchable photonic crystals, to catalysts, to sensors. To realize many of these applications it is important to gain control over the dynamics of the core particle independently of the shell. Hypothesis: The core particle may be manipulated by an AC electric field with rich frequency-dependent behavior. Experiments: Here, we explore the frequency-dependent dynamic electrophoretic mobility of a charged core particle within a charged, porous shell in AC electric fields both experimentally using liquid-phase electron microscopy and numerically via the finite-element method. These calculations solve the Poisson-Nernst-Planck-Stokes equations, where the core particle moves according to the hydrodynamic and electric forces acting on it. Findings: In experiments the core exhibited three frequency-dependent regimes of field-driven motion: (i) parallel to the field, (ii) diffusive in a plane orthogonal to the field, and (iii) unbiased random motion. The transitions between the three observed regimes can be explained by the level of matching between the time required to establish ionic gradients in the shell and the period of the AC field. We further investigated the effect of shell porosity, ionic strength, and inner-shell radius. The former strongly impacted the core's behavior by attenuating the field inside the shell. Our results provide physical understanding on how the behavior of yolk-shell particles may be tuned, thereby enhancing their potential for use as building blocks for switchable photonic crystals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-773
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Dynamic electrophoresis
  • Electric field effects
  • Electrostatic interactions
  • Hollow particles
  • Liquid phase electron microscopy
  • Rattle-type particle
  • Yolk-shell


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