We investigate the large length and long time scales collective flows and structural rearrangements within in vitro human bronchial epithelial cell (HBEC) cultures. Activity-driven collective flows result in ensembles of vortices randomly positioned in space. By analyzing a large population of vortices, we show that their area follows an exponential law with a constant mean value and their rotational frequency is size independent, both being characteristic features of the chaotic dynamics of active nematic suspensions. Indeed, we find that HBECs self-organize in nematic domains of several cell lengths. Nematic defects are found at the interface between domains with a total number that remains constant due to the dynamical balance of nucleation and annihilation events. The mean velocity fields in the vicinity of defects are well described by a hydrodynamic theory of extensile active nematics.
|Journal||Physical Review Letters|
|State||Published - 17 May 2018|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (all)