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Wrinkling Instability in 3D Active Nematics

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posted on 19.08.2020, 18:09 by Tobias Strübing, Amir Khosravanizadeh, Andrej Vilfan, Eberhard Bodenschatz, Ramin Golestanian, Isabella Guido
In nature, interactions between biopolymers and motor proteins give rise to biologically essential emergent behaviors. Besides cytoskeleton mechanics, active nematics arise from such interactions. Here we present a study on 3D active nematics made of microtubules, kinesin motors, and depleting agent. It shows a rich behavior evolving from a nematically ordered space-filling distribution of microtubule bundles toward a flattened and contracted 2D ribbon that undergoes a wrinkling instability and subsequently transitions into a 3D active turbulent state. The wrinkle wavelength is independent of the ATP concentration and our theoretical model describes its relation with the appearance time. We compare the experimental results with a numerical simulation that confirms the key role of kinesin motors in cross-linking and sliding the microtubules. Our results on the active contraction of the network and the independence of wrinkle wavelength on ATP concentration are important steps forward for the understanding of these 3D systems.

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