(159b) Structure and Dynamics of Active Liquid Crystalline Biopolymers
Active materials offer intriguing opportunities for applications ranging from robotics to catalytic systems. Their structure and dynamics, however, are not understood. Our recent efforts have focused on the study of active, liquid crystalline polymers, which exhibit nematic phases that are reminiscent of those found in traditional, small-molecule thermotropic systems. In this lecture, we will provide an overview of recent findings from our group, which suggest that an analogy can be made between suspensions of actin filaments with myosin and dense liquids. In this analogy, the defects that arise in such systems are treated as hard, anisotropic particles. By establishing that connection, it becomes possible to formulate a theory of active systems that could in principle enable design of active materials for engineering applications.