Distortion and destruction of colloidal flocks in disordered environments. Morin, A., Desreumaux, N., Caussin, J., & Bartolo, D. Nature Physics, 13(1):63-67, 10, 2016.
Distortion and destruction of colloidal flocks in disordered environments [pdf]Paper  Distortion and destruction of colloidal flocks in disordered environments [link]Website  abstract   bibtex   
How do flocks, herds and swarms proceed through disordered environments? This question is not only crucial to animal groups in the wild, but also to virtually all applications of collective robotics, and active materials composed of synthetic motile units. In stark contrast, appart from very rare exceptions, our physical understanding of flocking has been hitherto limited to homogeneous media. Here we explain how collective motion survives to geometrical disorder. To do so, we combine experiments on motile colloids cruising through random microfabricated obstacles, and analytical theory. We explain how disorder and bending elasticity compete to channel the flow of polar flocks along sparse river networks akin those found beyond plastic depinning in driven condensed matter. Further increasing disorder, we demonstrate that collective motion is suppressed in the form of a first-order phase transition generic to all polar active materials.
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 abstract = {How do flocks, herds and swarms proceed through disordered environments? This question is not only crucial to animal groups in the wild, but also to virtually all applications of collective robotics, and active materials composed of synthetic motile units. In stark contrast, appart from very rare exceptions, our physical understanding of flocking has been hitherto limited to homogeneous media. Here we explain how collective motion survives to geometrical disorder. To do so, we combine experiments on motile colloids cruising through random microfabricated obstacles, and analytical theory. We explain how disorder and bending elasticity compete to channel the flow of polar flocks along sparse river networks akin those found beyond plastic depinning in driven condensed matter. Further increasing disorder, we demonstrate that collective motion is suppressed in the form of a first-order phase transition generic to all polar active materials.},
 bibtype = {article},
 author = {Morin, Alexandre and Desreumaux, Nicolas and Caussin, Jean-baptiste and Bartolo, Denis},
 journal = {Nature Physics},
 number = {1}
}
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