We show that coupling to curvature nontrivially affects collective motion in active systems, leading to motion patterns not observed in flat space. Using numerical simulations, we study a model of self-propelled particles with polar alignment and soft repulsion confined to move on the surface of a sphere. We observe a variety of motion patterns with the main hallmarks being polar vortex and circulating band states arising due to the incompatibility between spherical topology and uniform motion - a consequence of the "hairy ball" theorem. We provide a detailed analysis of density, velocity, pressure, and stress profiles in the circulating band state. In addition, we present analytical results for a simplified model of collective motion on the sphere showing that frustration due to curvature leads to stable elastic distortions storing energy in the band.
|Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
|Published - 17 Feb 2015