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Spontaneous flows and defect proliferation in active nematic liquid crystals

Wednesday 10th April 2013 - 10:00 to 11:00
Active liquid crystals are nonequilibrium fluids composed of internally driven elongated units. Examples include mixtures of cytoskeletal filaments and associated motor proteins, bacterial suspensions, the cell cytoskeleton and even non-living analogues, such as monolayers of vibrated granular rods. Due to the internal drive, these systems exhibit a host of nonequilibrium phenomena, including spontaneous laminar flow, large density fluctuations, unusual rheological properties, excitability, and low Reynolds number turbulence. In this talk I will review some of this phenomena and discuss new results on the dynamics and proliferation of topological defects in active liquid crystals. A simple analytical model for the defect dynamics will be shown to reproduce the key features of recent experiments in microtubule-kinesin assemblies.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons