Synchronized oscillations, traveling waves, and jammed clusters induced by steric interactions in active filament arrays†
Autonomous active, elastic filaments that interact with each other to achieve cooperation and synchrony underlie many critical functions in biology. The mechanisms underlying this collective response and the essential ingredients for stable synchronization remain a mystery. Inspired by how these biological entities integrate elasticity with molecular motor activity to generate sustained oscillations, a number of synthetic active filament systems have been developed that mimic oscillations of these biological active filaments. Here, we describe the collective dynamics and stable spatiotemporal patterns that emerge in such biomimetic multi-filament arrays, under conditions where steric interactions may impact or dominate the collective dynamics. To focus on the role of steric interactions, we study the system using Brownian dynamics, without considering long-ranged hydrodynamic interactions. The simulations treat each filament as a connected chain of self-propelling colloids. We demonstrate that short-range steric inter-filament interactions and filament roughness are sufficient – even in the absence of inter-filament hydrodynamic interactions – to generate a rich variety of collective spatiotemporal oscillatory, traveling and static patterns. We first analyze the collective dynamics of two- and three-filament clusters and identify parameter ranges in which steric interactions lead to synchronized oscillations and strongly occluded states. Generalizing these results to large one-dimensional arrays, we find rich emergent behaviors, including traveling metachronal waves, and modulated wavetrains that are controlled by the interplay between the array geometry, filament activity, and filament elasticity. Interestingly, the existence of metachronal waves is non-monotonic with respect to the inter-filament spacing. We also find that the degree of filament roughness significantly affects the dynamics – specifically, filament roughness generates a locking-mechanism that transforms traveling wave patterns into statically stuck and jammed configurations. Taken together, simulations suggest that short-ranged steric inter-filament interactions could combine with complementary hydrodynamic interactions to control the development and regulation of oscillatory collective patterns. Furthermore, roughness and steric interactions may be critical to the development of jammed spatially periodic states; a spatiotemporal feature not observed in purely hydrodynamically interacting systems.