Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Meredith Betterton


Active nematic liquid crystals have remarkable properties that are only now starting to be understood. These non-equilibrium systems self-organize in solutions. We study a type of solu- tion consisting of microtubule filaments and motor proteins. Microtubules give structure to the cell, while motor proteins facilitate transport of molecules along microtubules. We compose sim- ulations and extract data to quantify stresses, pressure, filament distribution, and the order of two-dimensional active nematic liquid crystals. We identify and quantify phases and phase transi- tions, and seek to describe the physical properties of steady-state configurations. By characterizing these systems, we contribute to the developing field of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, and provide a framework for further research in driven nematic liquid crystals.