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Phenomenological model of motility by spatiotemporal modulation of active interactions

Schildknecht, Dominik and Thomson, Matt (2021) Phenomenological model of motility by spatiotemporal modulation of active interactions. New Journal of Physics, 23 (8). Art. No. 083001. ISSN 1367-2630. doi:10.1088/1367-2630/ac1144.

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Transport at microscopic length scales is essential in biological systems and various technologies, including microfluidics. Recent experiments achieved self-organized transport phenomena in microtubule active matter using light to modulate motor-protein activity in time and space. Here, we introduce a novel phenomenological model to explain such experiments. Our model, based on spatially modulated particle interactions, reveals a possible mechanism for emergent transport phenomena in light-controlled active matter, including motility and contraction. In particular, the model's analytic treatment elucidates the conservation of the center of mass of activated particles as a fundamental mechanism of material transport and demonstrates the necessity of memory for sustained motility. Furthermore, we generalize the model to explain other phenomena, like microtubule aster–aster interactions induced by more complicated activation geometries. Our results demonstrate that the model provides a possible foundation for the phenomenological understanding of light-controlled active matter, and it will enable the design and optimization of transport protocols for active matter devices.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemSource Code
Schildknecht, Dominik0000-0002-0678-0904
Thomson, Matt0000-0003-1021-1234
Alternate Title:Model of motility by spatiotemporal modulation of active interactions
Additional Information:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd on behalf of the Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. RECEIVED 16 April 2021. REVISED 24 June 2021. ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION 5 July 2021. PUBLISHED 30 July 2021. We thank Jerry Wang, Arjuna Subramanian, Dr Zijie Qu, and Dr Shahriar Shadkhoo for scientific discussions and feedback on the manuscript. We thank Inna-Marie Strazhnik for help preparing some of the figures. Furthermore, we acknowledge funding through the Foundational Questions Institute and Fetzer Franklin Fund through FQXi 1816, the Packard Foundation (2019-69662), and the Heritage Medical Research Institute. Data availability statement: The data that support the findings of this study are openly available at the following URL/DOI:
Group:Heritage Medical Research Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Foundational Questions Institute (FQXI)FQXi 1816
David and Lucile Packard Foundation2019-69662
Heritage Medical Research InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:protein-based active matter, phenomenological description, molecular dynamics simulations
Issue or Number:8
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200811-074939566
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Official Citation:Dominik Schildknecht and Thomson Matt 2021 New J. Phys. 23 083001
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104902
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Aug 2020 15:54
Last Modified:16 Aug 2021 17:48

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