Nov 21, 2022

Measuring Entropy in Active-Matter Systems

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A tool for estimating the local entropy production rate of a system enables the visualization and quantification of the out-of-equilibrium regions of an active-matter system.

A movie of a molecule jostling around in a fluid at equilibrium looks the same when played forward and backward. Such a movie has an “entropy production rate”—the parameter used to quantify this symmetry—of zero; most other movies have a nonzero value, meaning the visualized systems are out of equilibrium. Researchers know how to compute the entropy production rate of simple model systems. But measuring this parameter in experiments is an open problem. Now Sungham Ro of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Buming Guo of New York University, and colleagues have devised a method for making local measurements of the entropy production rate [1]. They demonstrate the technique using simulations and bacteria observations (Fig. 1).

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