Antipolar ordering of topological defects in active liquid crystals
Author(s)Oza, Anand U; Dunkel, Joern
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ATP-driven microtubule-kinesin bundles can self-assemble into two-dimensional active liquid crystals (ALCs) that exhibit a rich creation and annihilation dynamics of topological defects, reminiscent of particle-pair production processes in quantum systems. This recent discovery has sparked considerable interest but a quantitative theoretical description is still lacking. We present and validate a minimal continuum theory for this new class of active matter systems by generalizing the classical Landau–de Gennes free-energy to account for the experimentally observed spontaneous buckling of motor-driven extensile microtubule bundles. The resulting model agrees with recently published data and predicts a regime of antipolar order. Our analysis implies that ALCs are governed by the same generic ordering principles that determine the non-equilibrium dynamics of dense bacterial suspensions and elastic bilayer materials. Moreover, the theory manifests an energetic analogy with strongly interacting quantum gases. Generally, our results suggest that complex nonequilibrium pattern-formation phenomena might be predictable from a few fundamental symmetry-breaking and scale-selection principles.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mathematics
New Journal of Physics
Oza, Anand U, and Jörn Dunkel. “Antipolar Ordering of Topological Defects in Active Liquid Crystals.” New Journal of Physics 18.9 (2016): 093006. © 2017 IOP Publishing
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