Information transmission and signal permutation in active flow networks
Author(s)Woodhouse, Francis G; Fawcett, Joanna B; Dunkel, Joern
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Recent experiments show that both natural and artificial microswimmers in narrow channel-like geometries will self-organise to form steady, directed flows. This suggests that networks of flowing active matter could function as novel autonomous microfluidic devices. However, little is known about how information propagates through these far-from-equilibrium systems. Through a mathematical analogy with spin-ice vertex models, we inves tigate here the input-output characteristics of generic incompressible active flow networks (AFNs). Our analysis shows that information transport through an AFN is inherently different from conventional pressure or voltage driven networks. Active flows on hexagonal arrays preserve input information over longer distances than their passive counterparts and are highly sensitive to bulk topological defects, whose presence can be inferred from marginal input-output distributions alone. This sensitivity further allows controlled permutations on parallel inputs, revealing an unexpected link between active matter and group theory that can guide new microfluidic mixing strategies facilitated by active matter and aid the design of generic autonomous information transport networks.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mathematics
New Journal of Physics
Woodhouse, Francis G et al. “Information Transmission and Signal Permutation in Active Flow Networks.” New Journal of Physics 20, 3 (March 2018): 03500 © 2018 The Author(s)
Final published version