The "isothermal" compressibility of active matter

Austin R. Dulaney, Stewart A. Mallory, John F. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We demonstrate that the mechanically defined "isothermal"compressibility behaves as a thermodynamic-like response function for suspensions of active Brownian particles. The compressibility computed from the active pressure - a combination of the collision and unique swim pressures - is capable of predicting the critical point for motility induced phase separation, as expected from the mechanical stability criterion. We relate this mechanical definition to the static structure factor via an active form of the thermodynamic compressibility equation and find the two to be equivalent, as would be the case for equilibrium systems. This equivalence indicates that compressibility behaves like a thermodynamic response function, even when activity is large. Finally, we discuss the importance of the phase interface when defining an active chemical potential. Previous definitions of the active chemical potential are shown to be accurate above the critical point but breakdown in the coexistence region. Inclusion of the swim pressure in the mechanical compressibility definition suggests that the interface is essential for determining phase behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014902
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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