Issue 11, 2024

Motor crosslinking augments elasticity in active nematics


In active materials, uncoordinated internal stresses lead to emergent long-range flows. An understanding of how the behavior of active materials depends on mesoscopic (hydrodynamic) parameters is developing, but there remains a gap in knowledge concerning how hydrodynamic parameters depend on the properties of microscopic elements. In this work, we combine experiments and multiscale modeling to relate the structure and dynamics of active nematics composed of biopolymer filaments and molecular motors to their microscopic properties, in particular motor processivity, speed, and valency. We show that crosslinking of filaments by both motors and passive crosslinkers not only augments the contributions to nematic elasticity from excluded volume effects but dominates them. By altering motor kinetics we show that a competition between motor speed and crosslinking results in a nonmonotonic dependence of nematic flow on motor speed. By modulating passive filament crosslinking we show that energy transfer into nematic flow is in large part dictated by crosslinking. Thus motor proteins both generate activity and contribute to nematic elasticity. Our results provide new insights for rationally engineering active materials.

Graphical abstract: Motor crosslinking augments elasticity in active nematics

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Article information

Article type
05 Sep 2023
12 Jan 2024
First published
02 Feb 2024
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2024,20, 2480-2490

Motor crosslinking augments elasticity in active nematics

S. A. Redford, J. Colen, J. L. Shivers, S. Zemsky, M. Molaei, C. Floyd, P. V. Ruijgrok, V. Vitelli, Z. Bryant, A. R. Dinner and M. L. Gardel, Soft Matter, 2024, 20, 2480 DOI: 10.1039/D3SM01176C

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