The non-Gaussian tops and tails of diffusing boomerangs

Lyndon Koens, Maciej Lisicki*, Eric Lauga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Experiments involving the two-dimensional passive diffusion of colloidal boomerangs tracked off their centre of mobility have shown striking non-Gaussian tails in their probability distribution function [Chakrabarty et al., Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 4318]. This in turn can lead to anomalous diffusion characteristics, including mean drift. In this paper, we develop a general theoretical explanation for these measurements. The idea relies on calculating the two-dimensional probability densities at the centre of mobility of the particle, where all distributions are Gaussian, and then transforming them to a different reference point. Our model clearly captures the experimental results, without any fitting parameters, and demonstrates that the one-dimensional probability distributions may also exhibit strongly non-Gaussian tops. These results indicate that the choice of tracking point can cause a considerable departure from Gaussian statistics, potentially causing some common modelling techniques to fail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2977-2982
Number of pages6
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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