condensed matter, statistical mechanics, quantitative methods
We consider a coarse-grained description of a system of self-propelled particles given by hydrodynamic equations for the density and polarization fields. We find that the ordered moving or flocking state of the system is unstable to spatial fluctuations beyond a threshold set by the self-propulsion velocity of the individual units. In this region, the system organizes itself into an inhomogeneous state of well-defined propagating stripes of flocking particles interspersed with low density disordered regions. Further, we find that even in the regime where the homogeneous flocking state is stable, the system exhibits large fluctuations in both density and orientational order. We study the hydrodynamic equations analytically and numerically to characterize both regimes.
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