Flow-induced nonequilibrium self-assembly in suspensions of stiff, apolar, active filaments†
Active bodies in viscous fluids interact hydrodynamically through self-generated flows. A stiff, apolar, active filament generates symmetric fluid flow around it and thus cannot self-propel. Here we study the mobility and aggregation induced by hydrodynamic flow in a suspension of stiff, apolar, active filaments. We consider two types of active filaments, with those producing extensile or contractile flows along their long axis. Lateral hydrodynamic attractions in extensile filaments lead, independent of the volume fraction, to anisotropic aggregates which translate and rotate ballistically. Lateral hydrodynamic repulsions in contractile filaments lead to microstructured states, where the degree of clustering increases with the volume fraction and the filament motion is always diffusive. Our results demonstrate that the interplay between active hydrodynamic flows and anisotropic excluded volume interactions provides a generic nonequilibrium mechanism for hierarchical self-assembly of active soft matter.