Active Brownian equation of state: metastability and phase coexistence†
As a result of the competition between self-propulsion and excluded volume interactions, purely repulsive self-propelled spherical particles undergo a motility-induced phase separation (MIPS). We carry out a systematic computational study, considering several interaction potentials, systems confined by hard walls or with periodic boundary conditions, and different initial conditions. This approach allows us to identify that, despite its non-equilibrium nature, the equations of state of Active Brownian Particles (ABP) across MIPS verify the characteristic properties of first-order liquid–gas phase transitions, meaning, equality of pressure of the coexisting phases once a nucleation barrier has been overcome and, in the opposite case, hysteresis around the transition as long as the system remains in the metastable region. Our results show that the equations of state of ABPs account for their phase behaviour, providing a firm basis to describe MIPS as an equilibrium-like phase transition.