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Physics Colloquia 293 (2/8/19)

February 8, 2019 - 10:30am

Daniel Beller, University of California, Merced


Liquidcrystallinity, most famous for LC displays, is a widespread phenomenon in synthetic and biological systems. It occurs when a material has order intermediate between that of a simple liquid and that of a crystal. With this partial order comes the possibility of a breakdown of order at topological defects, where distortions are trapped in configurations impossible to “smooth away” locally. In liquid crystals at equilibrium, topological defects present opportunities for self-organized pattern formation and colloidal particle assembly. Here I will discuss the role of topological defects in the dynamics of active matter with liquid crystalline order, such as gels of biofilaments and motor proteins. These are far-from-equilibrium materials in which internally generated forces cause continually morphing distortions, competing with the energetic preference for alignment of the filaments. The geometry and topology of defects are key to understanding the complex dynamics of 3D active liquid crystals: Chaotic self-advection occurs through the spontaneous production of closed-loop singularities in the orientation field.

Flyer File: beller_daniel_physics_flyer.pdf