Experimental Studies of Social Collective Behaviors with feedback-controlled microswimmers

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2024
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Social collective behaviors are recurring phenomena in the wild and in our daily life. Most gregarious animals, including human, develop into functional collective patterns. Such collective group motions exhibit fascinating physical properties regarding time and length scales, high responsiveness to environments, dynamical structures, etc. Studies of these collective behaviors in animals continues for more than half a century, from empirical group-level observations to modeling of individual social responses, then even detailed neurobiology in sensory and decision-making. Physics engage in these highly complex many-body systems in multiple stages. First, interactions between group members affecting the motion of individuals are modeled as "social forces". Mechanics developed in active matter systems are particularly useful in this regard. Then, the statistical physics of complex and non-linear system apply to the emergent behaviors e.g. collective benefits. Such additional advantageous group properties or functions are the major reasoning for gregarious behaviors whose underlying mechanisms are not yet clear. Knowledge regarding symmetry, phase behavior and criticality also play roles in dynamics of transitions between collective patterns e.g. due to external stimuli. Last, network and information science focus on the sensing and consensus from individual to the whole group, effectively synchronizing all group members into one cooperative entity.
While studies regarding animal collective behaviors with social interactions often apply computer simulations, here in this thesis, we introduce experimental works with micron-sized robotic colloids as our social agents. These active colloids under a feedback loop controlling their forward motion and steering of orientation perform social interactions in a real world environment. We hence study the emergent collective behaviors in patterns, functioning and dynamics, as well as the robustness against environmental noise and additional physical interactions e.g. hydrodynamic effects. In the first study, we demonstrate the possibility to encode additional collective patterns in the interaction model of another pattern by simple induce symmetry breaking. We alter the model of rotational formation with replacement of local alignment for clockwise or counterclockwise rotation by a response to an external threat. This modification preserves the rotational nature of individual motion, however, the group perform flocking escaping motion upon the presence of the threat. Such a flocking formation emerge from a structure induced collective decision-making process and, hence, obtain tolerances to individual misinformation regarding the threat. The second work investigates effects of realistic 2-dimensional visual perception and finite attention capacity to a Vicsek-like flocking group. As social collective behaviors rely on each group member observing and responding to its neighboring peers, constrains related to these two abilities are supposedly crucial to the overall intra-group interactions. We examine visual constrains, i.e. range and obstructions between peers, as well as the individual capability to process information from multiple peers, i.e. attention limits, to the flocking stabilities. In experiments, a minimal attention corresponds to the stable flocking formation, which reflects the spatial geometry of the interaction network. Such a relation between real-space distribution and network-space connections is a profound characteristic in animal collective behaviors.
In general, our results with active matter experiments demonstrate the value of studying collective behaviors in model systems. The complexity in such realizations of social interaction models highlight the collective properties of both responsiveness and robustness to stimuli or noise. Nevertheless, our findings also have relevance to other many-body systems, e.g. robotic swarms where collective functioning reduces individual workloads.

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530 Physik
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active matter, collective behavior, active colloidal particles
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ISO 690CHEN, Chun-Jen, 2024. Experimental Studies of Social Collective Behaviors with feedback-controlled microswimmers [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Chen2024Exper-70021,
  year={2024},
  title={Experimental Studies of Social Collective Behaviors with feedback-controlled microswimmers},
  author={Chen, Chun-Jen},
  note={Projekt: H2020 ETN ActiveMatter},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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While studies regarding animal collective behaviors with social interactions often apply computer simulations, here in this thesis, we introduce experimental works with micron-sized robotic colloids as our social agents. These active colloids under a feedback loop controlling their forward motion and steering of orientation perform social interactions in a real world environment. We hence study the emergent collective behaviors in patterns, functioning and dynamics, as well as the robustness against environmental noise and additional physical interactions e.g. hydrodynamic effects. In the first study, we demonstrate the possibility to encode additional collective patterns in the interaction model of another pattern by simple induce symmetry breaking. We alter the model of rotational formation with replacement of local alignment for clockwise or counterclockwise rotation by a response to an external threat. This modification preserves the rotational nature of individual motion, however, the group perform flocking escaping motion upon the presence of the threat. Such a flocking formation emerge from a structure induced collective decision-making process and, hence, obtain tolerances to individual misinformation regarding the threat. The second work investigates effects of realistic 2-dimensional visual perception and finite attention capacity to a Vicsek-like flocking group. As social collective behaviors rely on each group member observing and responding to its neighboring peers, constrains related to these two abilities are supposedly crucial to the overall intra-group interactions. We examine visual constrains, i.e. range and obstructions  between peers, as well as the individual capability to process information from multiple peers, i.e. attention limits, to the flocking stabilities. In experiments, a minimal attention corresponds to the stable flocking formation, which reflects the spatial geometry of the interaction network. Such a relation between real-space distribution and network-space connections is a profound characteristic in animal collective behaviors.&lt;br /&gt;
In general, our results with active matter experiments demonstrate the value of studying collective behaviors in model systems. The complexity in such realizations of social interaction models highlight the collective properties of both responsiveness and robustness to stimuli or noise. Nevertheless, our findings also have relevance to other many-body systems, e.g. robotic swarms where collective functioning reduces individual workloads.</dcterms:abstract>
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April 16, 2024
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Konstanz, Univ., Diss., 2024
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Projekt: H2020 ETN ActiveMatter
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