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Defect Dynamics in 2D Active Nematic Liquid Crystals

While conventional materials are assembled from inanimate building blocks, we are exploring the behavior of soft materials in which the constituent components consume energy and spontaneously coordinate their microscopic behavior and form novel materials such as active gels, crawling emulsion droplets, and living liquid crystals.

In active liquid crystals, defects proliferate to a dynamical steady state through unconventional creation and annihilation processes. Pairs of defects stream across the nematic liquid crystal exhibiting tunable dynamics not readily observed in equilibrium liquid crystals.