Antipolar Ordering of Topological Defects in Active Liquid Crystals

Condensed Matter journal club

Antipolar Ordering of Topological Defects in Active Liquid Crystals

  • Event time: 11:30am
  • Event date: 18th November 2016
  • Speaker: Matthew Blow (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details


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.
New Journal of Physics 18 093006 (2016)
pdf version


Anand U Oza, Jörn Dunkel

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Given the diversity of research in the CM group, chosen topics vary widely. We tend to stick to high-impact journals - Nature, Science, PNAS and PRL have been popular - but this is not prescriptive..

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