The interplay between activity and filament flexibility determines the emergent properties of active nematics
Active nematics are microscopically driven liquid crystals that exhibit dynamical steady states characterized by the creation and annihilation of topological defects. Motivated by differences between previous simulations of active nematics based on rigid rods and experimental realizations based on semiflexible biopolymer filaments, we describe a large-scale simulation study of a particle-based computational model that explicitly incorporates filament semiflexibility. We find that energy injected into the system at the particle scale preferentially excites bend deformations, reducing the apparent filament bend modulus. The emergent characteristics of the active nematic depend on activity and flexibility only through this activity-renormalized bend ‘modulus’, demonstrating that apparent values of material parameters, such as the Frank ‘constants’, depend on activity. Thus, phenomenological parameters within continuum hydrodynamic descriptions of active nematics must account for this dependence. Further, we present a systematic way to estimate these parameters from observations of deformation fields and defect shapes in experimental or simulation data.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Soft Matter Emerging Investigators