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Issue 36, 2017
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Motility of active nematic films driven by “active anchoring”

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We provide a minimal model for an active nematic film in contact with both a solid substrate and a passive isotropic fluid, and explore its dynamics in one and two dimensions using a combination of hybrid Lattice Boltzmann simulations and analytical calculations. By imposing nematic anchoring at the substrate while active flows induce a preferred alignment at the interface (“active anchoring”), we demonstrate that directed fluid flow spontaneously emerges in cases where the two anchoring types are opposing. In one dimension, our model reduces to an analogue of a loaded elastic column. Here, the transition from a stationary to a motile state is akin to the buckling bifurcation, but offers the possibility to reverse the flow direction for a given set of parameters and boundary conditions solely by changing initial conditions. The two-dimensional variant of our model allows for additional tangential instabilities, and it is found that undulations form in the interface above a threshold activity. Our results might be relevant for the design of active microfluidic geometries or curvature-guided self-assembly.

Graphical abstract: Motility of active nematic films driven by “active anchoring”

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Feb 2017, accepted on 31 Jul 2017 and first published on 31 Jul 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00325K
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 6137-6144
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    Motility of active nematic films driven by “active anchoring”

    M. L. Blow, M. Aqil, B. Liebchen and D. Marenduzzo, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 6137
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00325K

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