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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Oct 4;111(14):145702. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Continuum theory of phase separation kinetics for active Brownian particles.

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SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, JCMB Kings Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, United Kingdom.


Active Brownian particles (ABPs), when subject to purely repulsive interactions, are known to undergo activity-induced phase separation broadly resembling an equilibrium (attraction-induced) gas-liquid coexistence. Here we present an accurate continuum theory for the dynamics of phase-separating ABPs, derived by direct coarse graining, capturing leading-order density gradient terms alongside an effective bulk free energy. Such gradient terms do not obey detailed balance; yet we find coarsening dynamics closely resembling that of equilibrium phase separation. Our continuum theory is numerically compared to large-scale direct simulations of ABPs and accurately accounts for domain growth kinetics, domain topologies, and coexistence densities.

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