Physical properties of collective motion in suspensions of bacteria

Andrey Sokolov, Igor S. Aranson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


A suspension of microswimmers, the simplest realization of active matter, exhibits novel material properties: the emergence of collective motion, reduction in viscosity, increase in diffusivity, and extraction of useful energy. Bacterial dynamics in dilute suspensions suggest that hydrodynamic interactions and collisions between the swimmers lead to collective motion at higher concentrations. On the example of aerobic bacteria Bacillus subtilis, we report on spatial and temporal correlation functions measurements of collective state for various swimming speeds and concentrations. The experiments produced a puzzling result: while the energy injection rate is proportional to the swimming speed and concentration, the correlation length remains practically constant upon small speeds where random tumbling of bacteria dominates. It highlights two fundamental mechanisms: hydrodynamic interactions and collisions; for both of these mechanisms, the change of the swimming speed or concentration alters an overall time scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number248109
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 14 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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