Dancing disclinations in confined active nematics†
The spontaneous emergence of collective flows is a generic property of active fluids and often leads to chaotic flow patterns characterised by swirls, jets, and topological disclinations in their orientation field. However, the ability to achieve structured flows and ordered disclinations is of particular importance in the design and control of active systems. By confining an active nematic fluid within a channel, we find a regular motion of disclinations, in conjunction with a well defined and dynamic vortex lattice. As pairs of moving disclinations travel through the channel, they continually exchange partners producing a dynamic ordered state, reminiscent of Ceilidh dancing. We anticipate that this biomimetic ability to self-assemble organised topological disclinations and dynamically structured flow fields in engineered geometries will pave the road towards establishing new active topological microfluidic devices.