Active viscoelastic matter: From bacterial drag reduction to turbulent solids

E. J. Hemingway, A. Maitra, S. Banerjee, M. C. Marchetti, S. Ramaswamy, S. M. Fielding, M. E. Cates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A paradigm for internally driven matter is the active nematic liquid crystal, whereby the equations of a conventional nematic are supplemented by a minimal active stress that violates time-reversal symmetry. In practice, active fluids may have not only liquid-crystalline but also viscoelastic polymer degrees of freedom. Here we explore the resulting interplay by coupling an active nematic to a minimal model of polymer rheology. We find that adding a polymer can greatly increase the complexity of spontaneous flow, but can also have calming effects, thereby increasing the net throughput of spontaneous flow along a pipe (a "drag-reduction" effect). Remarkably, active turbulence can also arise after switching on activity in a sufficiently soft elastomeric solid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number098302
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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