Emergent collective phenomena in a mixture of hard shapes through active rotation

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Feb 21;112(7):075701. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.075701. Epub 2014 Feb 20.


We investigate collective phenomena with rotationally driven spinners of concave shape. Each spinner experiences a constant internal torque in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Although the spinners are modeled as hard, otherwise noninteracting rigid bodies, their active motion induces an effective interaction that favors rotation in the same direction. With increasing density and activity, phase separation occurs via spinodal decomposition, as well as self-organization into rotating crystals. We observe the emergence of cooperative, superdiffusive motion along interfaces, which can transport inactive test particles. Our results demonstrate novel phase behavior of actively rotated particles that is not possible with linear propulsion or in nondriven, equilibrium systems of identical hard particles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Rotation*
  • Torque