Statistical and Biological Physics

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In biology and nanotechnology, tiny building blocks can quickly and robustly come together to form complex structures. In our study, we dive into this world of self-assembly and uncover a crucial factor: morphology, or the shape of these building blocks. While the importance of weak and reversible interactions between building blocks is well understood, our research sheds new light on how their shapes significantly influence the efficiency of self-assembly. more

One of the hallmark features of active nematics is the formation of oppositely charged, point-like, topological half-integer defects that exhibit creation/annihilation dynamics. So far, such ±1/2 defects have been found only in dense and spatially uniform active systems, and it has been argued that they are absent in dilute, phase-separated active systems. In our study, we show that phase-separated active nematics can form condensed -1/2 defects of a new kind. In stark contrast to the well-studied homogeneous case, these new defects coincide with density peaks, lack a positively charged counterpart, condense nematic fluxes, and coexist with undulating dense bands from which they are formed by a new hierarchical condensation phenomenon. more