Detecting and characterizing phase transitions in active matter using entropy

Benjamin Sorkin, Avraham Be’er, Haim Diamant, Gil Ariel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major challenge in the study of active matter lies in quantitative characterization of phases and transitions between them. We show how the entropy of a collection of active objects can be used to classify regimes and spatial patterns in their collective behavior. Specifically, we estimate the contributions to the total entropy from correlations between the degrees of freedom of position and orientation. This analysis pin-points the flocking transition in the Vicsek model while clarifying the physical mechanism behind the transition. When applied to experiments on swarming Bacillus subtilis with different cell aspect ratios and overall bacterial area fractions, the entropy analysis reveals a rich phase diagram with transitions between qualitatively different swarm statistics. We discuss physical and biological implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5118-5126
Number of pages9
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number27
StatePublished - 12 Jul 2023

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© 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


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