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The field of active matter studies how internally driven motile components self-organize into large-scale dynamical states and patterns. This Review discusses how active matter concepts are important for understanding cell biology, and how the use of biochemical components enables the creation of new inherently non-equilibrium materials with unique properties that have so far been mostly restricted to living organisms.
Hourglasses measure time because the discharge rate of dry sand is constant. Here Koivisto et al. show that when such a system contains water there is a surge in discharge because the fluid drains faster than the grains, which might help us understand the transport of grains in silos.
When particle-laden drops evaporate, coffee ring patterns form which can affect particle deposition. Here Davidson et al. show that unlike previously investigated drops, the flows in drying drops of liquid crystals are driven by an increase in surface tension due to liquid crystal concentration.
Ionic liquids are important for energy storage and lubrication but their behaviour at electrified interfaces remains elusive. Confined ionic liquids are now shown to exhibit a dramatic change to a solid-like phase pointing to capillary freezing.