Propagation of active nematic–isotropic interfaces on substrates†
Motivated by results for the propagation of active–passive interfaces of bacterial Serratia marcescens swarms [Nat. Commun., 2018, 9, 5373], we used a hydrodynamic multiphase model to investigate the propagation of interfaces of active nematics on substrates. We characterized the active nematic phase of the model through the calculation of the spatial and temporal auto correlation functions and the energy spectrum and discussed its description of the statistical dynamics of the swarms reported in the experiment. We then studied the propagation of circular and flat active–passive interfaces. We found that the closing time of the circular passive domain decays quadratically with the activity and that the structure factor of the flat interface is similar to that reported for the swarms, with an activity dependent exponent. Finally, the effect of the substrate friction was investigated. We found an activity dependent threshold, above which the turbulent active nematic forms isolated islands that shrink until the system becomes isotropic and below which the active nematic expands, with a well defined propagating interface. We also found that the interface becomes static in the presence of a friction gradient.