Mechanics of Active Networks – Lessons from Fire Ant Aggregations
Sridhar, Shankar Lalitha
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Biological assemblies in nature are seen as active matter due to their ability to perform intelligent collective motion based on neighbor interactions and sometimes without any centralized control or leadership. Fire ants are a great example in this context and display a rich class of material behaviors, including elasticity, viscous flow, and self-healing. Although classical theories in mechanics have enabled us to mechanically characterize this system, there is still a gap in our understanding on how individual ant behavior affects the emerging response of the aggregation. I will discuss an alternative approach from a statistical perspective where the population distribution of ants evolves due to mechanical deformation, and individual ant’s leg detachment and attachment events. Numerical simulations of the aggregation’s response in diverse situations, such as jamming (density) and shear thinning (reduced viscosity) will be presented and compared to experimental measurements.
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