Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26651697
Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 2015 Nov;92(5):052309
To elucidate mechanisms of mesoscopic turbulence exhibited by active particles, we experimentally study turbulent states of nonliving self-propelled particles. We realize an experimental system with dense suspensions of asymmetrical colloidal particles (Janus particles) self-propelling on a two-dimensional surface under an ac electric field. Velocity fields of the Janus particles in the crowded situation can be regarded as a sort of turbulence because it contains many vortices and their velocities change abruptly. Correlation functions of their velocity field reveal the coexistence of polar alignment and antiparallel alignment interactions, which is considered to trigger mesoscopic turbulence. Probability distributions of local order parameters for polar and nematic orders indicate the formation of local clusters with particles moving in the same direction. A broad peak in the energy spectrum of the velocity field appears at the spatial scales where the polar alignment and the cluster formation are observed. Energy is injected at the particle scale and conserved quantities such as energy could be cascading toward the larger clusters.