Published: Sept. 30, 2015
Phase diagram

H.-S. Kuan, R. Blackwell, L. E. Hough, M. A. Glaser, and M. D. Betterton (2015). Physical Review E 92, 060501. arXiv:1407.4842. Download.

Non-equilibrium active matter made up of self-driven particles with short-range repulsive interactions is a useful minimal system to study active matter as the system exhibits collective motion and nonequilibrium order-disorder transitions. We studied high-aspect-ratio self-propelled rods over a wide range of packing fraction and driving to determine the nonequilibrium state diagram and dynamic properties. Flocking and nematic-laning states occupy much of the parameter space. In the flocking state the average internal pressure is high and structural and mechanical relaxation times are long, suggesting that rods in flocks are in a translating glassy state despite overall flock motion. In contrast, the nematic-laning state shows fluid-like behavior. The flocking state occupies regions of the state diagram at both low and high packing fraction separated by nematic-laning at low driving and a history-dependent region at higher driving; the nematic-laning state transitions to the flocking state for both compression and expansion. We propose that the laning-flocking transitions are a type of glass transition which, in contrast to other glass-forming systems, can show fluidization as density increases. The fluid internal dynamics and ballistic transport of the nematic-laning state may promote collective dynamics of rod-shaped microorganisms.