A simple catch: Fluctuations enable hydrodynamic trapping of microrollers by obstacles
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It is known that obstacles can hydrodynamically trap bacteria and synthetic microswimmers in orbits, where the trapping time heavily depends on the swimmer flow field and noise is needed to escape the trap. Here, we use experiments and simulations to investigate the trapping of microrollers by obstacles. Microrollers are rotating particles close to a bottom surface, which have a prescribed propulsion direction imposed by an external rotating magnetic field. The flow field that drives their motion is quite different from previously studied swimmers. We found that the trapping time can be controlled by modifying the obstacle size or the colloid-obstacle repulsive potential. We detail the mechanisms of the trapping and find two remarkable features: The microroller is confined in the wake of the obstacle, and it can only enter the trap with Brownian motion. While noise is usually needed to escape traps in dynamical systems, here, we show that it is the only means to reach the hydrodynamic attractor.