Collective dynamics of self-propelled particles : waves, vortex, swarm, braiding

Abstract : The emergence of coherent motion at large scale has been widely observed in animal populations (bird flocks, fish schools, bacterial swarms...) and more recently in artificial systems. Such ensembles of self-propelled individuals, capable of aligning their velocities, are commonly referred to as polar active materials. They display unique physical properties, which we investigate in this theoretical thesis.We first describe a population of self-propelled colloids. In strong connection with the experiments, we model the dynamics from the individual level to the macroscopic scale. The theoretical results account for the emergence and the structure of coherent patterns: (i)~transition to collective motion, (ii)~propagation of polar spatial structures, (iii)~damping of density fluctuations in a polar liquid, (iv)~heterogeneous vortex in confined geometries.We then follow a more formal perspective, and study the non-linear excitations which propagate in polar active systems. We analyze the hydrodynamic theories of active matter using a dynamical-system framework. This approach makes it possible to rationalize the experimental and numerical observations reported so far.Finally, we propose a complementary approach to characterize active populations. Combining numerical and analytical results, we study the geometric properties of the individual trajectories and their entanglement within three-dimensional flocks. We suggest that these observables should provide powerful tools to describe animal flocks in the wild.
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Jean-Baptiste Caussin. Collective dynamics of self-propelled particles : waves, vortex, swarm, braiding. Other [cond-mat.other]. Ecole normale supérieure de lyon - ENS LYON, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015ENSL0996⟩. ⟨tel-01170988⟩

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