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  1. Asphaltenes are the heaviest and most polarizable fractions of crude oil. During the oil production process, changes in the temperature, pressure, and oil composition can destabilize asphaltenes. This destabilization leads to asphaltene aggregation and deposition, which can cause major clogging problems in both the wellbore and near-wellbore regions as well as the production facilities. In this study, we developed and investigated the application of acrylic acid and 2-acrylanmido-2-methylpropanesulfonic acid (AA–AMPS)-functionalized magnetic nanoparticles as a surface coating in inhibiting asphaltene deposition. The use of the porous media microfluidic platform allows for efficient evaluation of the effectiveness of the nanoparticle coating in mitigating asphaltene deposition in various crude oils. We demonstrated that the nanoparticle coating is effective in inhibiting asphaltene deposition, showing up to a 75% improvement in permeability change. The study also explores the dynamics of asphaltene aggregation and deposition in different crude oils. We identified factors such as asphaltene aggregate size as well as the physical and chemical characteristics of the aggregates that can determine the effectiveness of different mitigation methods. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 21, 2024
  2. Active colloids use energy input at the particle level to propel persistent motion and direct dynamic assemblies. We consider three types of colloids animated by chemical reactions, time-varying magnetic fields, and electric currents. For each type, we review the basic propulsion mechanisms at the particle level and discuss their consequences for collective behaviors in particle ensembles. These microscopic systems provide useful experimental models of nonequilibrium many-body physics in which dissipative currents break time-reversal symmetry. Freed from the constraints of thermodynamic equilibrium, active colloids assemble to form materials that move, reconfigure, heal, and adapt. Colloidal machines based on engineered particles and their assemblies provide a basis for mobile robots with increasing levels of autonomy. This review provides a conceptual framework for understanding and applying active colloids to create material systems that mimic the functions of living matter. We highlight opportunities for chemical engineers to contribute to this growing field.

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  3. The complexity of shear-induced grain boundary dynamics has been historically difficult to view at the atomic scale. Meanwhile, two-dimensional (2D) colloidal crystals have gained prominence as model systems to easily explore grain boundary dynamics at single-particle resolution but have fallen short at exploring these dynamics under shear. Here, we demonstrate how an inherent interfacial shear in 2D colloidal crystals drives microstructural evolution. By assembling paramagnetic particles into polycrystalline sheets using a rotating magnetic field, we generate a particle circulation at the interface of particle-free voids. This circulation shears the crystalline bulk, operating as both a source and sink for grain boundaries. Furthermore, we show that the Read-Shockley theory for hard-condensed matter predicts the misorientation angle and energy of shear-induced low-angle grain boundaries based on their regular defect spacing. Model systems containing shear provide an ideal platform to elucidate shear-induced grain boundary dynamics for use in engineering improved/advanced materials.

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  4. Abstract

    Elastic filaments driven out of equilibrium display complex phenomena that involve periodic changes in their shape. Here, the periodic deformation dynamics of semiflexible colloidal chains in an eccentric magnetic field are presented. This field changes both its magnitude and direction with time, leading to novel nonequilibrium chain structures. Deformation into S-, Z-, and 4-mode shapes arises via the propagation and growth of bending waves. Transitions between these morphologies are governed by an interplay among magnetic, viscous, and elastic forces. Furthermore, the periodic behavior leading to these structures is described by four distinct stages of motion that include rotation, arrest, bending, and stretching of the chain. These stages correspond to specific intervals of the eccentric field’s period. A scaling analysis that considers the relative ratio of viscous to magnetic torques via a critical frequency illustrates how to maximize the bending energy. These results provide new insights into controlling colloidal assemblies by applying complex magnetic fields.

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  5. null (Ed.)
    Magnetically-guided colloidal assembly has proven to be a versatile method for building hierarchical particle assemblies. This review describes the dipolar interactions that govern superparamagnetic colloids in time-varying magnetic fields, and how such interactions have guided colloidal assembly into materials with increasing complexity that display novel dynamics. The assembly process is driven by magnetic dipole–dipole interactions, whose strength can be tuned to be attractive or repulsive. Generally, these interactions are directional in static external magnetic fields. More recently, time-varying magnetic fields have been utilized to generate dipolar interactions that vary in both time and space, allowing particle interactions to be tuned from anisotropic to isotropic. These interactions guide the dynamics of hierarchical assemblies of 1-D chains, 2-D networks, and 2-D clusters in both static and time-varying fields. Specifically, unlinked and chemically-linked colloidal chains exhibit complex dynamics, such as fragmentation, buckling, coiling, and wagging phenomena. 2-D networks exhibit controlled porosity and interesting coarsening dynamics. Finally, 2-D clusters have shown to be an ideal model system for exploring phenomena related to statistical thermodynamics. This review provides recent advances in this fast-growing field with a focus on its scientific potential. 
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  6. Phase separation processes are widely utilized to assemble complex fluids into novel materials. These separation processes can be thermodynamically driven due to changes in concentration, pressure, or temperature. Phase separation can also be induced with external stimuli, such as magnetic fields, resulting in novel nonequilibrium systems. However, how external stimuli influence the transition pathways between phases has not been explored in detail. Here, we describe the phase separation dynamics of superparamagnetic colloids in time-varying magnetic fields. An initially homogeneous colloidal suspension can transition from a continuous colloidal phase with voids to discrete colloidal clusters, through a bicontinuous phase formed via spinodal decomposition. The type of transition depends on the particle concentration and magnitude of the applied magnetic field. The spatiotemporal evolution of the microstructure during the nucleation and growth period is quantified by analyzing the morphology using Minkowski functionals. The characteristic length of the colloidal systems was determined to correlate with system variables such as magnetic field strength, particle concentration, and time in a power-law scaling relationship. Understanding the interplay between particle concentration and applied magnetic field allows for better control of the phases observed in these magnetically tunable colloidal systems. 
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  7. Abstract

    Nonionic surfactants are increasingly being applied in oil recovery processes due to their stability and low adsorption onto mineral surfaces. However, these surfactants lead to the production of emulsified oil that is extremely stable and difficult to separate by conventional methods. This research characterizes the stability of crude oil mixed with a nonionic surfactant, L24–22, in a brine solution. When subjected to gravity separation, a middle oil‐rich and bottom water‐rich emulsion are generated for various water–oil ratios. Thermal treatments can effectively break oil‐rich emulsions, but the bottom water layer remains contaminated with micron‐sized crude oil droplets. A magnetic nanoparticle treatment is shown to demulsify the crude oil emulsions, dropping the total organic carbon (TOC) in the water layer from 1470 to 30 ppm.

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  8. Densely packed wet foam was subjected to gradual expansion and contraction in a wide (1400–1800 μm) microfluidic channel to study localized plastic deformation events within the monodisperse bubble matrix. Dislocation glide, reflection, nucleation, and dipole transformations from extensional and compressive stresses were observed across a range of fluid flow rates and bubble packing densities. Disparate, cyclic reflections occur in two independent regions of the flowing foam, and the mechanisms of dislocation reflection under tension are expanded. The use of an asymmetric channel created a dichotomy in the model crystalline system between straighter, aligned bubble rows and curved, misaligned rows due to the corresponding streamlines within the channel. The resulting gradient in crystalline alignment had numerous effects on dislocation mobility and plastic deformation. 7/7 dipoles were found to rearrange to a more stable configuration aligned with the foam flow before dissociating. Dislocations comprising 5/5 dipoles (resembling the inverse-Stone–Wales defect in carbon nanostructures) were discovered to pass through one another via intermediate ring structures, which most commonly consisted of three dislocation pairs around a triangular-shaped central bubble. 
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