Chemotactic Motility-Induced Phase Separation

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Collectives of actively moving particles can spontaneously separate into dilute and dense phases - a fascinating phenomenon known as motility-induced phase separation (MIPS). MIPS is well-studied for randomly moving particles with no directional bias. However, many forms of active matter exhibit collective chemotaxis, directed motion along a chemical gradient that the constituent particles can generate themselves. Here, using theory and simulations, we demonstrate that collective chemotaxis strongly competes with MIPS - in some cases, arresting or completely suppressing phase separation, or in other cases, generating fundamentally new dynamic instabilities. We establish principles describing this competition, thereby helping to reveal and clarify the rich physics underlying active matter systems that perform chemotaxis, ranging from cells to robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118301
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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