Self-propelled particles are an interesting case study in nonequilibrium self-assembly because of their widespread applicability. Swarms of bacteria, spermatozoa, birds, and drone aircraft are just a small sampling of systems that can be described by a self-propelled colloid model. In this work we investigate the self-organizing behavior of a model of self-propelled interacting colloids. We find steady state structures stabilized far-from-equilibrium using GPU-optimized molecular dynamics simulations (1). We demonstrate control over swarm morphology by tuning interaction parameters, thermodynamic parameters, and initial conditions. We also characterize the behavior of the system in response to controllable thermal noise, and show how to exploit this behavior to control switching between multiple stable structures (2).
(2) This material is based in part upon work supported as part of the Non-Equilibrium Energy Research Center (NERC), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC0000989.