Unifying polar and nematic active matter: Emergence and co-existence of half-integer and full-integer topological defects

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The presence and significance of active topological defects is increasingly realised in diverse biological and biomimetic systems. We introduce a continuum model of polar active matter, based on conservation laws and symmetry arguments, that recapitulates both polar and apolar (nematic) features of topological defects in active turbulence. Using numerical simulations of the continuum model, we demonstrate the emergence of both half- and full-integer topological defects in polar active matter. Interestingly, we find that crossover from active turbulence with half-to full-integer defects can emerge with the coexistence region characterized by both defect types. These results put forward a minimal, generic framework for studying topological defect patterns in active matter which is capable of explaining the emergence of half-integer defects in polar systems such as bacteria and cell monolayers, as well as predicting the emergence of coexisting defect states in active matter.

Original languageEnglish
Article number094002
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number9
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

    Research areas

  • active matter, nematic, polar, topological defects

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