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Recent Program Highlights

Here, three IRG2 PP developed a combination of experiments with 3D active fluids confined in microfluidic channels and a minimal hydrodynamic model to show that size of the channel determines the emergent lengthscale of the growing deformations. These findings will advance our understanding of active nemato-hydrodynamics and the pathways to 3D active turbulence at low Reynolds number.

Producing self-assembled structures of prescribed limited size and shape is a major challenge in nanoscience. A major achievement of the MRSEC was to elucidate a new chirality-based mechanism that leads to self-limiting assembly of colloidal rafts.

Soil is a highly disordered granular material. Slow soil deformation (creep) controls the shape of hills in the natural landscape, and is a precursor of catastrophic landsliding. Our work demonstrates a surprising observation: an apparently static sandpile, sitting on a table, is actually alive with motion. We study a 3D granular heap, confined by walls and prepared by pouring. Via Diffusive Wave Spectroscopy (DWS), we observe the existence of spatially-heterogeneous micro-deformations that decay in size and frequency as time progresses but persist up to 11 days after the preparation of the system; the heap relaxes. We find that this relaxation can be enhanced  (overaged) or reversed (rejuvenated) by tuning the types of disturbances applied to system.

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