Spontaneous population oscillation of confined active granular particles†
Spontaneous collective oscillation may emerge from seemingly irregular active matter systems. Here, we experimentally demonstrate a spontaneous population oscillation of active granular particles confined in two chambers connected by a narrow channel, and verify the intriguing behavior predicted in simulation [M. Paoluzzi, R. Di Leonardo and L. Angelani, Self-sustained density oscillations of swimming bacteria confined in microchambers, Phys. Rev. Lett., 2015, 115(18), 188303]. During the oscillation, the two chambers are alternately (nearly) filled up and emptied by the self-propelled particles in a periodic manner. We show that the stable unidirectional flow induced due to the confined channel and its periodic reversal triggered by the particle concentration difference between two chambers jointly give rise to the oscillatory collective behavior. Furthermore, we propose a minimal theoretical model that properly reproduces the experimental results without free parameters. This self-sustained collective oscillation could serve as a robust active granular clock, capable of providing rhythmic signals.