Wetting Transition of Active Brownian Particles on a Thin Membrane

F Turci and NB Wilding, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 127, 238002 (2021).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.127.238002

We study nonequilibrium analogues of surface phase transitions in a minimal model of active particles in contact with a purely repulsive potential barrier that mimics a thin porous membrane. Under conditions of bulk motility-induced phase separation, the interaction strength ew of the barrier controls the affinity of the dense phase for the barrier region. We uncover clear signatures of a wetting phase transition as ew is varied. In common with its equilibrium counterpart, the character of this transition depends on the system dimensionality: a continuous transition with large density fluctuations and gas bubbles is uncovered in 2D while 3D systems exhibit a sharp transition absent of large correlations.

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