Biological materials combine unique structural features with active agents, so called motor proteins that lend these materials their unique functionalities. However, how the structure and activity conspire to yield the functionalities required for life, such as mechanical stiffening, morphing and shape changing abilities, is unclear. Understanding these relationships requires deep insights into nonequilibrium physics, a new field that is just about to unfold.
Recent advances in colloid science allow the assembly of complex structures from sophisticated new colloidal building blocks. In addition, self-propelling particles that move autonomously have just become available.
In this project, we want to combine both advances and create active solids that offer analogues of their biological counterpart. Just like biological matter, these artificial materials should be able to change shape, morph and translate, depending on the activity of the mobile agents, their coupling, and the geometry of the structure. These well-controlled model systems allow insight into the underlying non-equilibrium physics that is expected to underlie also biological matter. We will create active colloidal materials, and systematically investigate the relation between activity, geometry and mechanical function.
Supervisor: Peter Schall, firstname.lastname@example.org
daily supervisor: Nick Koppasis, email@example.com