The boundary element method (BEM) is a computational method particularly suited to solution of linear partial differential equations (PDEs), including the Laplace and Stokes equations, in complex geometries. The PDEs are formulated as boundary integral equations over bounding surfaces, which can be discretized for numerical solution. This manuscript reviews application of the BEM for simulation of the dynamics of “active” colloids that can self-propel through liquid solution. We introduce basic concepts and model equations for both catalytically active colloids and the “squirmer” model of a ciliated biological microswimmer. We review the foundations of the BEM for both the Laplace and Stokes equations, including the application to confined geometries, and the extension of the method to include thermal fluctuations of the colloid. Finally, we discuss recent and potential applications to research problems concerning active colloids. The aim of this review is to facilitate development and adoption of boundary element models that capture the interplay of deterministic and stochastic effects in the dynamics of active colloids.
Part of the book: Non-Equilibrium Particle Dynamics