Instabilities and waves in thin films of living fluids

Sumithra Sankararaman, Sriram Ramaswamy

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54 Scopus citations


We formulate the thin-film hydrodynamics of a suspension of polar self-driven particles and show that it is prone to several instabilities through the interplay of activity, polarity, and the existence of a free surface. Our approach extends, to self-propelling systems, the work of Ben Amar and Cummings on thin-film nematics. Based on our estimates the instabilities should be seen in bacterial suspensions and the lamellipodium, and are potentially relevant to the morphology of biofilms. We suggest several experimental tests of our theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118107
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 19 2009


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