Irreversibility in Active Matter Systems: Fluctuation Theorem and Mutual Information
We consider a Brownian particle which, in addition to being in contact with a thermal bath, is driven by fluctuating forces which stem from active processes in the system, such as self-propulsion or collisions with other active particles. These active fluctuations do not fulfill a fluctuation-dissipation relation and therefore play the role of a nonequilibrium environment, which keeps the system permanently out of thermal equilibrium even in the absence of external forces. We investigate how the out-of-equilibrium character of the active matter system and the associated irreversibility is reflected in the trajectories of the Brownian particle. Specifically, we analyze the log ratio of path probabilities for observing a certain particle trajectory forward in time versus observing its time-reversed twin trajectory. For passive Brownian motion, it is well known that this path probability ratio quantifies irreversibility in terms of entropy production. For active Brownian motion, we show that in addition to the usual entropy produced in the thermal environment, the path probability ratio contains a contribution to irreversibility from mutual information "production" between the particle trajectory and the history of the nonequilibrium environment. The resulting irreversibility measure fulfills an integral fluctuation theorem and a secondlaw-like relation. When deriving and discussing these relations, we keep in mind that the active fluctuations can occur either due to a suspension of active particles pushing around a passive colloid or due to active self-propulsion of the particle itself; we point out the similarities and differences between these two situations. We obtain explicit expressions for active fluctuations modeled by an Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process. Finally, we illustrate our general results by analyzing a Brownian particle which is trapped in a static or moving harmonic potential.
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AMER PHYSICAL SOC