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Issue 39, 2014
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Spontaneous motility of passive emulsion droplets in polar active gels

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Abstract

We study by computer simulations the dynamics of a droplet of passive, isotropic fluid, embedded in a polar active gel. The latter represents a fluid of active force dipoles, which exert either contractile or extensile stresses on their surroundings, modelling for instance a suspension of cytoskeletal filaments and molecular motors. When the polarisation of the active gel is anchored normal to the droplet at its surface, the nematic elasticity of the active gel drives the formation of a hedgehog defect; this defect then drives an active flow which propels the droplet forward. In an extensile gel, motility can occur even with tangential anchoring, which is compatible with a defect-free polarisation pattern. In this case, upon increasing activity the droplet first rotates uniformly, and then undergoes a discontinuous nonequilibrium transition into a translationally motile state, powered by bending deformations in the surrounding active medium.

Graphical abstract: Spontaneous motility of passive emulsion droplets in polar active gels

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Apr 2014, accepted on 28 Jul 2014 and first published on 28 Jul 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM00937A
Author version available: Download Author version (PDF)
Citation: Soft Matter, 2014,10, 7826-7837
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    Spontaneous motility of passive emulsion droplets in polar active gels

    G. De Magistris, A. Tiribocchi, C. A. Whitfield, R. J. Hawkins, M. E. Cates and D. Marenduzzo, Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 7826
    DOI: 10.1039/C4SM00937A

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