Revealing the deterministic components in active avalanche-like dynamics†
Avalanche dynamics in an ensemble of self-propelled camphor boats are studied. The self-propelled agents are camphor infused circular paper disks moving on the surface of water. The ensemble exhibits bursts of activity in the autonomous state triggered by stochastic fluctuations. This type of dynamics has been previously reported in a slightly different system (J. Phys. Soc. Jpn., 2015, 84, 034802). Fourier analysis of the autonomous ensemble's average speed reveals a unimodal spectrum, indicating the presence of a preferred time scale in the dynamics. We therefor, entrain such an ensemble by external forcing by using periodic air perturbations on the surface of the water. This forcing is able to replace the stochastic fluctuations which trigger a burst in the autonomous ensemble, thus entraining the system. Upon varying the periodic forcing frequency, an optimal frequency is revealed at which the quality of entrainment of the ensemble by the forcing is augmented. This optimal frequency is found to be in the vicinity of the Fourier spectrum peak of the autonomous ensemble's average speed. This indicates the existence of an underlying deterministic component in the apparent aperiodic bursts of motion of the autonomous ensemble of active particles. A qualitative reasoning for the observed phenomenon is presented.