Submersed Micropatterned Structures Control Active Nematic Flow, Topology and Concentration

Kristian Thijssen, Dimitrius Khaladj, S. Ali Aghvami, Mohamed Amine Gharbi, Seth Fraden, Julia M. Yeomans, Linda S. Hirst, Tyler N. Shendruk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coupling between flows and material properties imbues rheological matter with its wide-ranging applicability, hence the excitement for harnessing the rheology of active fluids for which internal structure and continuous energy injection lead to spontaneous flows and complex, out-of-equilibrium dynamics. We propose and demonstrate a convenient, highly tuneable method for controlling flow, topology and composition within active films. Our approach establishes rheological coupling via the indirect presence of fully submersed micropatterned structures within a thin, underlying oil layer. Simulations reveal that micropatterned structures produce effective virtual boundaries within the superjacent active nematic film due to differences in viscous dissipation as a function of depth. This accessible method of applying position-dependent, effective dissipation to the active films presents a non-intrusive pathway for engineering active microfluidic systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Jul 2021


  • cond-mat.soft


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