Publications associated with Condensed Matter Theory


Scalar Active Mixtures: The Nonreciprocal Cahn-Hilliard Model

Physical Review X 10 (2020)

S Saha, J Agudo-Canalejo, R Golestanian

© 2020 authors. Published by the American Physical Society. Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the "https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/"Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI. Open access publication funded by the Max Planck Society. Pair interactions between active particles need not follow Newton's third law. In this work, we propose a continuum model of pattern formation due to nonreciprocal interaction between multiple species of scalar active matter. The classical Cahn-Hilliard model is minimally modified by supplementing the equilibrium Ginzburg-Landau dynamics with particle-number-conserving currents, which cannot be derived from a free energy, reflecting the microscopic departure from action-reaction symmetry. The strength of the asymmetry in the interaction determines whether the steady state exhibits a macroscopic phase separation or a traveling density wave displaying global polar order. The latter structure, which is equivalent to an active self-propelled smectic phase, coarsens via annihilation of defects, whereas the former structure undergoes Ostwald ripening. The emergence of traveling density waves, which is a clear signature of broken time-reversal symmetry in this active system, is a generic feature of any multicomponent mixture with microscopic nonreciprocal interactions.


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