Publications by Rian Hughes

Reconfigurable flows and defect landscape of confined active nematics

Communications Physics Springer Nature 2 (2019) 121

J Hardoüin, R Hughes, A Doostmohammadi, J Laurent, T Lopez-Leon, J Yeomans, J Ignés-Mullol, F Sagués

Using novel micro-printing techniques, we develop a versatile experimental setup that allows us to study how lateral confinement tames the active flows and defect properties of the microtubule/kinesin active nematic system. We demonstrate that the active length scale that determines the self-organization of this system in unconstrained geometries loses its relevance under strong lateral confinement. Dramatic transitions are observed from chaotic to vortex lattices and defect-free unidirectional flows. Defects, which determine the active flow behavior, are created and annihilated on the channel walls rather than in the bulk, and acquire a strong orientational order in narrow channels. Their nucleation is governed by an instability whose wavelength is effectively screened by the channel width. All these results are recovered in simulations, and the comparison highlights the role of boundary conditions.

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