Elasticity-based mechanism for the collective motion of self-propelled particles with springlike interactions: a model system for natural and artificial swarms

Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Dec 27;111(26):268302. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.268302. Epub 2013 Dec 26.


We introduce an elasticity-based mechanism that drives active particles to self-organize by cascading self-propulsion energy towards lower-energy modes. We illustrate it on a simple model of self-propelled agents linked by linear springs that reach a collectively rotating or translating state without requiring aligning interactions. We develop an active elastic sheet theory, complementary to the prevailing active fluid theories, and find analytical stability conditions for the ordered state. Given its ubiquity, this mechanism could play a relevant role in various natural and artificial swarms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Crystallization
  • Elasticity
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • Models, Theoretical*