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Topological structure and dynamics of three-dimensional active nematics


Duclos, Guillaume et al. (2020), Topological structure and dynamics of three-dimensional active nematics, Dryad, Dataset,


Topological structures are effective descriptors of the nonequilibrium dynamics of diverse many-body systems. For example, motile, point-like topological defects capture the salient features of two-dimensional active liquid crystals composed of energy-consuming anisotropic units. We dispersed force-generating microtubule bundles in a passive colloidal liquid crystal to form a three-dimensional active nematic. Light-sheet microscopy revealed the temporal evolution of the millimeter-scale structure of these active nematics with single-bundle resolution. The primary topological excitations are extended, charge-neutral disclination loops that undergo complex dynamics and recombination events. Our work suggests a framework for analyzing the nonequilibrium dynamics of bulk anisotropic systems as diverse as driven complex fluids, active metamaterials, biological tissues, and collections of robots or organisms.

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National Science Foundation, Award: 1855914

National Science Foundation, Award: MCB090163

National Science Foundation, Award: 1420382

National Science Foundation, Award: 1437195

National Institutes of Health, Award: 5R00HD088708-05

U.S. Department of Defense, Award: W911NF-19-1-0268

U.S. Department of Energy, Award: DE-SC0019733

Human Frontier Science Program, Award: LT001065/2017