Active particles are microscopic particles, which can inject energy locally and were made available by recent progress in colloidal science. They are ideal "pump-probes" to explore the emergent properties in soft systems powered from within or control and direct self-assembly at the microscale.
In this talk, I will first show how active particles added to a material can regulate its activity internally and boost the annealing of a colloidal monolayer . It opens a broad range of novel opportunities to thermal treatments, where the properties of matter are not controlled macroscopically but microscopically and in real time by active dopants. Next, I will introduce a new type of self-assembly through a novel approach to devise spinning microrotors that self-assemble and synchronize, from a single type of building block a colloid that self-propels. Using photo-active particles and light patterns, I will demonstrate the potential of non-equilibrium (phoretic) interactions to program self-assembly and control dynamical colloidal architectures . It shows that, as in living systems, non-equilibrium processes hold the key to the realization of synthetic machines from machines.