Enhanced Diffusion of Passive Tracers in Active Enzyme Solutions

Xi Zhao, Krishna K. Dey, Selva Jeganathan, Peter J. Butler, Ubaldo M. Córdova-Figueroa, Ayusman Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Colloidal suspensions containing microscopic swimmers have been the focus of recent studies aimed at understanding the principles of energy transfer in fluidic media at low Reynolds number conditions. Going down in scale, active enzymes have been shown to be force-generating, nonequilibrium systems, thus offering opportunity to examine energy transfer at the ultralow Reynolds number regime. By monitoring the change of diffusion of inert tracers dispersed in active enzyme solutions, we demonstrate that the nature of energy transfer in these systems is similar to that reported for larger microscopic active systems, despite the large differences in scale, modes of energy transduction, and propulsion. Additionally, even an enzyme that catalyzes an endothermic reaction behaves analogously, suggesting that heat generation is not the primary factor for the observed enhanced tracer diffusion. Our results provide new insights into the mechanism of energy transfer at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4807-4812
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 9 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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