Spatio-temporal patterning of extensile active stresses in microtubule-based active fluids

TitleSpatio-temporal patterning of extensile active stresses in microtubule-based active fluids
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsLemma LM, Varghese M, Ross TD, Thomson M, Baskaran A, Dogic Z
JournalPNAS Nexus
Date Published04

Microtubule-based active fluids exhibit turbulent-like autonomous flows, which are driven by the molecular motor powered motion of filamentous constituents. Controlling active stresses in space and time is an essential prerequisite for controlling the intrinsically chaotic dynamics of extensile active fluids. We design single-headed kinesin molecular motors that exhibit optically enhanced clustering and thus enable precise and repeatable spatial and temporal control of extensile active stresses. Such motors enable rapid, reversible switching between flowing and quiescent states. In turn, spatio-temporal patterning of the active stress controls the evolution of the ubiquitous bend instability of extensile active fluids and determines its critical length dependence. Combining optically controlled clusters with conventional kinesin motors enables one-time switching from contractile to extensile active stresses. These results open a path towards real-time control of the autonomous flows generated by active fluids.