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Shear-induced orientational ordering in an active glass former

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Rituparno Mandal, Peter Sollich

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2101964118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Accepted/In press13 Aug 2021
Published28 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank Jörg Rottler and Rohit Jain for insightful discussions. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant 893 128. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Dense assemblies of self-propelled particles that can form solid-like states also known as active or living glasses are abundant around us, covering a broad range of length scales and timescales: from the cytoplasm to tissues, from bacterial biofilms to vehicular traffic jams, and from Janus colloids to animal herds. Being structurally disordered as well as strongly out of equilibrium, these systems show fascinating dynamical and mechanical properties. Using extensive molecular dynamics simulation and a number of distinct dynamical and mechanical order parameters, we differentiate three dynamical steady states in a sheared model active glassy system: 1) a disordered state, 2) a propulsion-induced ordered state, and 3) a shear-induced ordered state. We supplement these observations with an analytical theory based on an effective single-particle Fokker–Planck description to rationalize the existence of the shear-induced orientational ordering behavior in an active glassy system without explicit aligning interactions of, for example, Vicsek type. This ordering phenomenon occurs in the large persistence time limit and is made possible only by the applied steady shear. Using a Fokker–Planck description with parameters that can be measured independently, we make testable predictions for the joint distribution of single-particle position and orientation. These predictions match well with the joint distribution measured from direct numerical simulation. Our results are of relevance for experiments exploring the rheological response of dense active colloids and jammed active granular matter systems.

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