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Scalar phi(4) field theory for active-particle phase separation

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Original languageEnglish
Article number4351
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Abstract

Recent theories predict phase separation among orientationally disordered active particles whose propulsion speed decreases rapidly enough with density. Coarse-grained models of this process show time-reversal symmetry (detailed balance) to be restored for uniform states, but broken by gradient terms; hence, detailed-balance violation is strongly coupled to interfacial phenomena. To explore the subtle generic physics resulting from such coupling, we here introduce 'Active Model B'. This is a scalar phi(4) field theory (or phase-field model) that minimally violates detailed balance via a leading-order square-gradient term. We find that this additional term has modest effects on coarsening dynamics, but alters the static phase diagram by creating a jump in (thermodynamic) pressure across flat interfaces. Both results are surprising, since interfacial phenomena are always strongly implicated in coarsening dynamics but are, in detailed-balance systems, irrelevant for phase equilibria.

    Research areas

  • SUSPENSIONS, INTERFACES, PATTERNS, FLUIDS, MATTER

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