The interaction of dielectrophoresis (DEP) particles in an electric field has been observed in many experiments, known as the “particle chains phenomenon”. However, the study in 3D models (spherical particles) is rarely reported due to its complexity and significant computational cost. In this paper, we employed the iterative dipole moment (IDM) method to study the 3D interaction of a large number of dense DEP particles randomly distributed on a plane perpendicular to a uniform alternating current (AC) electric field in a bounded or unbounded space. The numerical results indicated that the particles cannot move out of the initial plane. The similar particles (either all positive or all negative DEP particles) always repelled each other, and did not form a chain. The dissimilar particles (a mixture of positive and negative DEP particles) always attracted each other, and formed particle chains consisting of alternately arranged positive and negative DEP particles. The particle chain patterns can be randomly multitudinous depending on the initial particle distribution, the electric properties of particles/fluid, the particle sizes and the number of particles. It is also found that the particle chain patterns can be effectively manipulated via tuning the frequency of the AC field and an almost uniform distribution of particles in a bounded plane chip can be achieved when all of the particles are similar, which may have potential applications in the particle manipulation of microfluidics.
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