Rheology of active polar emulsions: from linear to unidirectional and inviscid flow, and intermittent viscosity†
The rheological behaviour of an emulsion made of an active polar component and an isotropic passive fluid is studied by lattice Boltzmann methods. Different flow regimes are found by varying the values of the shear rate and extensile activity (occurring, e.g., in microtubule-motor suspensions). By increasing the activity, a first transition occurs from the linear flow regime to spontaneous persistent unidirectional macro-scale flow, followed by another transition either to a (low shear) intermittent flow regime with the coexistence of states with positive, negative, and vanishing apparent viscosity, or to a (high shear) symmetric shear thinning regime. The different behaviours can be explained in terms of the dynamics of the polarization field close to the walls. A maximum entropy production principle selects the most likely states in the intermittent regime.