Designing microscopic and nanoscopic self-propelled particles and characterising their motion have become a major scientific challenge over the past few decades. To this purpose, phoretic effects, namely propulsion mechanisms relying on local field gradients, have been the focus of many theoretical and experimental studies. In this review, we adopt a tutorial approach to present the basic physical mechanisms at stake in phoretic motion, and describe the different experimental works that led to the fabrication of active particles based on this principle. We also present the collective effects observed in assemblies of interacting active colloids, and the theoretical tools that have been used to describe phoretic and hydrodynamic interactions.
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