Emergent Structures in an Active Polar Fluid: Dynamics of Shape, Scattering, and Merger

Phys Rev Lett. 2017 Feb 17;118(7):078104. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.078104. Epub 2017 Feb 17.


Spatially localized defect structures emerge spontaneously in a hydrodynamic description of an active polar fluid comprising polar "actin" filaments and "myosin" motor proteins that (un)bind to filaments and exert active contractile stresses. These emergent defect structures are characterized by distinct textures and can be either static or mobile-we derive effective equations of motion for these "extended particles" and analyze their shape, kinetics, interactions, and scattering. Depending on the impact parameter and propulsion speed, these active defects undergo elastic scattering or merger. Our results are relevant for the dynamics of actomyosin-dense structures at the cell cortex, reconstituted actomyosin complexes, and 2D active colloidal gels.