Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30367049
Nat Commun 2018 10;9(1):4486
A suspension of swimming bacteria is possibly the simplest realization of active matter, i.e. a class of systems transducing stored energy into mechanical motion. Collective swimming of hydrodynamically interacting bacteria resembles turbulent flow. This seemingly chaotic motion can be rectified by a geometrical confinement. Here we report on self-organization of a concentrated suspension of motile bacteria Bacillus subtilis constrained by two-dimensional (2D) periodic arrays of microscopic vertical pillars. We show that bacteria self-organize into a lattice of hydrodynamically bound vortices with a long-range antiferromagnetic order controlled by the pillars’ spacing. The patterns attain their highest stability and nearly perfect order for the pillar spacing comparable with an intrinsic vortex size of an unconstrained bacterial turbulence. We demonstrate that the emergent antiferromagnetic order can be further manipulated and turned into a ferromagnetic state by introducing chiral pillars. This strategy can be used to control a wide class of active 2D systems.