Effective temperature concept evaluated in an active colloid mixture

Ming Han, Jing Yan, Steve Granick*, Erik Luijten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Thermal energy agitates all matter, and its competition with ordering tendencies is a fundamental organizing principle in the physical world; this observation suggests that an effective temperature might emerge when external energy input enhances agitation. However, despite the repeated proposal of this concept based on kinetics for various nonequilibrium systems, the value of an effective temperature as a thermodynamic control parameter has been unclear. Here, we introduce a two-component system of driven Janus colloids, such that collisions induced by external energy sources agitate the system, and we demonstrate quantitative agreement with hallmarks of statistical thermodynamics for binary phase behavior: the archetypal phase diagram with equilibrium critical exponents, Gaussian displacement distributions, and even capillarity. The significance is to demonstrate a class of dynamical conditions under which thermodynamic analysis extends quantitatively to systems that are decidedly nonequilibrium except that the effective temperature differs from the physical temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7513-7518
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 18 2017


  • Active matter
  • Colloid
  • Nonequilibrium
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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