Large-scale chaos and fluctuations in active nematics

Sandrine Ngo*, Anton Peshkov, Igor S. Aranson, Eric Bertin, Francesco Ginelli, Hugues Chate

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


We show that "dry" active nematics, e.g. collections of shaken elongated granular particles, exhibit large-scale spatiotemporal chaos made of interacting dense, ordered, band-like structures in a parameter region including the linear onset of nematic order. These results are obtained from the study of the relatively simple and well-known (deterministic) hydrodynamic equations describing these systems in a dilute limit, and of a self-propelled particle Vicsek-like model for this class of active matter. In this last case, revisiting the status of the strong fluctuations and long-range correlations now considered as landmarks of orientationally-ordered active phases, we show that the giant number fluctuations observed in the chaotic phase are a trivial consequence of density segregation. However anomalous density fluctuations are present in the homogeneous quasi-ordered nematic phase and characterized by a non-trivial scaling exponent.
Original languageEnglish
Article number038302
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2014


  • giant number fluctuations
  • matter
  • microtubules
  • systems
  • fluids


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