Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


A microscopic army


Ensembles of magnetic colloids can undergo an instability triggering the formation of clusters that move faster than the particles themselves. The many-body process relies on hydrodynamics alone and may prove useful for load delivery in fluidics.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1



  1. Taylor, G. I. Proc. R. Soc A 201, 192–196 (1950).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Wysocki, A. & Löwen, H. J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 16, 7209–7224 (2004).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Driscoll, M. et al. Nat. Phys. 13, 375–379 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Goldmann, A. J., Cox, R. G. & Brenner, H. Chem. Eng. Sci. 22, 637–651 (1967).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bricard, A., Caussin, J.-B., Desreumaux, N., Dauchot, O. & Bartolo, D. Nature 503, 95–98 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. van Reenen, A., de Jong, A. M. & Prins, M. W. J. Lab Chip 15, 2864–2871 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Martinez-Pedrero, F., Ortiz-Ambriz, A., Pagonabarraga, I. & Tierno, P. Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 138301 (2015).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Snezhko, A. Curr. Opin. Colloid Interface Sci. 21, 65–75 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Martin, J. E., Venturini, E., Gulley, G. L. & Williamson, J. Phys. Rev. E 69, 021508 (2004).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Sawetzki, T., Rahmouni, S., Bechinger, C. & Marr, D. W. M. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 20141–20145 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pietro Tierno.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tierno, P. A microscopic army. Nature Phys 13, 324–326 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing