Theory Seminar: Tyler Shendruk (Loughborough), Building Towards Bio-Mechanical Fluidic Machines
While traditional fluids only flow when acted upon, a remarkable class of biomaterials can spontaneously flow by means of their own internal energy. These “active fluids” comprise a wide range of biological systems that bridge between biological and condensed matter systems. As examples of intrinsically out-of-equilibrium and self-propelled soft matter, such systems hold potential as rheological building blocks for biomimetic designs, if methods of manipulating and controlling them can be devised. This talk will focus on the example of microtubule-based extensile films modelled through active nematohydrodynamic simulations, and we will discuss a set of preliminary geometries and designs for controlling active nematics. Of particular interest will be the continuously creation and annihilation topological defect pairs, singularities in the orientation field that lie at the heart of many phenomena in active nematics. While these defects play a pivotal role in generating disorderly turbulent-like flows, they also have potential for engineering novel applications and understanding morphology when spatiotemporally ordered flow states can be produced. The knowledge gained from studying such “living” flows within confining and driven environments is essential for future designs of hybrid bio-mechanical devices that have the potential to work in conjunction with active biological fluids, rather than against them.