Pattern formation in chemically interacting active rotors with self-propulsion

Benno Liebchen*, Michael E. Cates, Davide Marenduzzo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We demonstrate that active rotations in chemically signalling particles, such as autochemotactic E. coli close to walls, create a route for pattern formation based on a nonlinear yet deterministic instability mechanism. For slow rotations, we find a transient persistence of the uniform state, followed by a sudden formation of clusters contingent on locking of the average propulsion direction by chemotaxis. These clusters coarsen, which results in phase separation into a dense and a dilute region. Faster rotations arrest phase separation leading to a global travelling wave of rotors with synchronized roto-translational motion. Our results elucidate the physics resulting from the competition of two generic paradigms in active matter, chemotaxis and active rotations, and show that the latter provides a tool to design programmable self-assembly of active matter, for example to control coarsening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7259-7264
Number of pages6
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2016

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