TitleEmergent dynamics due to chemo-hydrodynamic self-interactions in active polymers.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsKumar M, Murali A, Subramaniam AGopal, Singh R, Thutupalli S
JournalNat Commun
Date Published2024 Jun 08

The field of synthetic active matter has, thus far, been led by efforts to create point-like, isolated (yet interacting) self-propelled objects (e.g. colloids, droplets, microrobots) and understanding their collective dynamics. The design of flexible, freely jointed active assemblies from autonomously powered sub-components remains a challenge. Here, we report freely-jointed active polymers created using self-propelled droplets as monomeric units. Our experiments reveal that the self-shaping chemo-hydrodynamic interactions between the monomeric droplets give rise to an emergent rigidity (the acquisition of a stereotypical asymmetric C-shape) and associated ballistic propulsion of the active polymers. The rigidity and propulsion of the chains vary systematically with their lengths. Using simulations of a minimal model, we establish that the emergent polymer dynamics are a generic consequence of quasi two-dimensional confinement and auto-repulsive trail-mediated chemical interactions between the freely jointed active droplets. Finally, we tune the interplay between the chemical and hydrodynamic fields to experimentally demonstrate oscillatory dynamics of the rigid polymer propulsion. Altogether, our work highlights the possible first steps towards synthetic self-morphic active matter.

Alternate JournalNat Commun
PubMed ID38851777
PubMed Central IDPMC11162426