DOI: 10.1002/smll.202304387 ISSN:

Spontaneous Chiral Symmetry Breaking and Lane Formation in Ferromagnetic Ferrofluids

Mojca Vilfan, Borut Lampret, Žiga Gregorin, Luka Cmok, Andrej Vilfan, Jürgen Klepp, Joachim Kohlbrecher, Patricija Hribar Boštjančič, Darja Lisjak, Alenka Mertelj
  • Biomaterials
  • Biotechnology
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemistry


Ferromagnetic ferrofluids are synthetic materials consisting of magnetic nanoplatelets dispersed in an isotropic fluid. Their main characteristics are the formation of stable magnetic domains and the presence of macroscopic magnetization even in the absence of a magnetic field. Here, the authors report on the experimental observation of spontaneous stripe formation in a ferromagnetic ferrofluid in the presence of an oscillating external magnetic field. The striped structure is identified as elongated magnetic domains, which exhibit reorientation upon reversal of the magnetic field. The stripes are oriented perpendicular to the magnetic field and are separated by alternating flow lanes. The velocity profile is measured using a space–time correlation technique that follows the motion of the thermally excited fluctuations in the sample. The highest velocities are found in the depleted regions between individual domains and reach values up to several µm s−1. The fluid in adjacent lanes moves in the opposite directions despite the applied magnetic field being uniform. The formation of bidirectional flow lanes can be explained by alternating rotation of magnetic nanoparticles in neighboring stripes, which indicates spontaneous breaking of the chiral symmetry in the sample.

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