Effects of confinement on the dynamics and correlation scales in kinesin-microtubule active fluids

Phys Rev E. 2021 Sep;104(3-1):034601. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.104.034601.


We study the influence of solid boundaries on dynamics and structure of kinesin-driven microtubule active fluids as the height of the container, H, increases from hundreds of micrometers to several millimeters. By three-dimensional tracking of passive tracers dispersed in the active fluid, we observe that the activity level, characterized by velocity fluctuations, increases as system size increases and retains a small-scale isotropy. Concomitantly, as the confinement level decreases, the velocity-velocity temporal correlation develops a strong positive correlation at longer times, suggesting the establishment of a "memory". We estimate the characteristic size of the flow structures from the spatial correlation function and find that, as the confinement becomes weaker, the correlation length, l_{c}, saturates at approximately 400 microns. This saturation suggests an intrinsic length scale which, along with the small-scale isotropy, demonstrates the multiscale nature of this kinesin-driven bundled microtubule active system.