Polar state reversal in active fluids

Bo Zhang, Hang Yuan, Andrey Sokolov, Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Alexey Snezhko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Spontaneous emergence of correlated states such as flocks and vortices is a prime example of collective dynamics and self-organization observed in active matter1–6. In geometrically confined systems, the formation of globally correlated polar states proceeds through the emergence of a macroscopic steadily rotating vortex, which spontaneously selects a clockwise or counterclockwise global chiral state7,8. Here, we reveal that a global vortex formed by colloidal rollers exhibits polar state reversal and that a subsequent formation of the collective states upon re-energizing the system is not random. We combine experiments and simulations to elucidate how a combination of hydrodynamic and electrostatic interactions leads to hidden asymmetries in the local particle positional order, reflecting the chiral state of the system. These asymmetries can be exploited to systematically command subsequent polar states of active liquids through temporal control of the activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-159
Number of pages6
JournalNature Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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