Here, we explore the single particle dynamics of superparamagnetic beads exposed to multifrequency ratchets. Through a combination of theory, simulation, and experiment, we determine the important tuning parameters that can be used to implement multiplexed separation of polydisperse colloidal mixtures. In particular, our results demonstrate that the ratio of driving frequencies controls the transition between open and closed trajectories that allow particles to be transported across a substrate. We also demonstrate that the phase difference between the two frequencies controls not only the direction of motion but also which particles are allowed to move within a polydisperse mixture. These results represent a fundamentally different approach to colloidal separation than the previous methods which are based on controlling transitions between phase-locked and phase-slipping regimes, and have a higher degree of multiplexing capabilities that can benefit the fields of biological separation and sensing as well as provide crucial insights into general ratchet behavior.
Multiplexing superparamagnetic beads driven by multi-frequency ratchets.