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Journal Articles Physical Review Letters Year : 2020

Phase Separation by Entanglement of Active Polymerlike Worms

A. C. Maggs
D. Bonn
  • Function : Author
S. Woutersen
  • Function : Author


We investigate the aggregation and phase separation of thin, living T. tubifex worms that behave as active polymers. Randomly dispersed active worms spontaneously aggregate to form compact, highly entangled blobs, a process similar to polymer phase separation, and for which we observe power-law growth kinetics. We find that the phase separation of active polymerlike worms does not occur through Ostwald ripening, but through active motion and coalescence of the phase domains. Interestingly, the growth mechanism differs from conventional growth by droplet coalescence: the diffusion constant characterizing the random motion of a worm blob is independent of its size, a phenomenon that can be explained from the fact that the active random motion arises from the worms at the surface of the blob. This leads to a fundamentally different phase-separation mechanism that may be unique to active polymers.

Dates and versions

hal-03008354 , version 1 (16-11-2020)



A. Deblais, A. C. Maggs, D. Bonn, S. Woutersen. Phase Separation by Entanglement of Active Polymerlike Worms. Physical Review Letters, 2020, 124 (20), ⟨10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.208006⟩. ⟨hal-03008354⟩


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