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  1. null (Ed.)
    Active nematics are a class of far-from-equilibrium materials characterized by local orientational order of force-generating, anisotropic constitutes. Traditional methods for predicting the dynamics of active nematics rely on hydrodynamic models, which accurately describe idealized flows and many of the steady-state properties, but do not capture certain detailed dynamics of experimental active nematics. We have developed a deep learning approach that uses a Convolutional Long-Short-Term-Memory (ConvLSTM) algorithm to automatically learn and forecast the dynamics of active nematics. We demonstrate our purely data-driven approach on experiments of 2D unconfined active nematics of extensile microtubule bundles, as well as on data from numerical simulations of active nematics. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
  3. We study how confinement transforms the chaotic dynamics of bulk microtubule-based active nematics into regular spatiotemporal patterns. For weak confinements in disks, multiple continuously nucleating and annihilating topological defects self-organize into persistent circular flows of either handedness. Increasing confinement strength leads to the emergence of distinct dynamics, in which the slow periodic nucleation of topological defects at the boundary is superimposed onto a fast procession of a pair of defects. A defect pair migrates toward the confinement core over multiple rotation cycles, while the associated nematic director field evolves from a distinct double spiral toward a nearly circularly symmetric configuration. The collapse of the defect orbits is punctuated by another boundary-localized nucleation event, that sets up long-term doubly periodic dynamics. Comparing experimental data to a theoretical model of an active nematic reveals that theory captures the fast procession of a pair of+1/2defects, but not the slow spiral transformation nor the periodic nucleation of defect pairs. Theory also fails to predict the emergence of circular flows in the weak confinement regime. The developed confinement methods are generalized to more complex geometries, providing a robust microfluidic platform for rationally engineering 2D autonomous flows.

     
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