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Journal Article

Spontaneous flow instabilities of active polar fluids in three dimensions


Jülicher,  Frank
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Singh, A., Vagne, Q., Jülicher, F., & Sbalzarini, I. F. (2023). Spontaneous flow instabilities of active polar fluids in three dimensions. Physical Review Research, 5(2): L022061. doi:10.1103/PhysRevResearch.5.L022061.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-C135-D
Active polar fluids exhibit spontaneous flow when sufficient active stress is generated by internal molecular mechanisms. This is also referred to as an active Freedericksz transition. Experiments have revealed the existence of competing in-plane and out-of-plane instabilities in three-dimensional active matter. So far, however, a theoretical model reconciling all observations is missing. In particular, the role of boundary conditions in these instabilities still needs to be explained. Here, we characterize the spontaneous flow transition in a symmetry-preserving three-dimensional active Ericksen-Leslie model, showing that the boundary conditions select the emergent behavior. Using nonlinear numerical solutions and linear perturbation analysis, we explain the mechanism for both in-plane and out-of-plane instabilities under extensile active stress for perpendicular polarity anchoring at the boundary, whereas parallel anchoring only permits in-plane flows under contractile stress or out-of-plane wrinkling under extensile stress.