Active Matter

Surfing and crawling macroscopic active particles under strong confinement – inertial dynamics [link]

We study two types of active (self-propelled) macroscopic particles under confinement: camphor surfers and hexbug crawlers, using a combined experimental, theoretical, and numerical approach. Unlike widely studied microscopic active particles and swimmers, where thermal forces are often important and inertia is negligible, our macroscopic particles exhibit complex dynamics due expressly to active non-thermal noise combined with inertial effects. Strong confinement induces accumulation at a finite distance within the boundary and gives rise to three distinguishable dynamical states; both depending on activity and inertia. These surprisingly complex dynamics arise already at the single particle level — highlighting the importance of inertia in macroscopic active matter.

Quantifying the non-equilibrium activity of an active colloid [link]

Active matter systems exhibit rich emergent behavior due to constant injection and dissipation of energy at the level of individual agents. Since these systems are far from equilibrium, their dynamics and energetics cannot be understood using the framework of equilibrium statistical mechanics. Recent developments in stochastic thermodynamics extend classical concepts of work, heat, and energy dissipation to fluctuating non-equilibrium systems. We use recent advances in experiment and theory to study the non-thermal dissipation of individual light-activated self-propelled colloidal particles. We focus on characterizing the transition from thermal to non-thermal fluctuations and show that energy dissipation rates on the order of ∼kBT/s are measurable from finite time series data.