Synthetic Active Matter
We apply the methods from statistical physics and fluid dynamics to study the dynamics of synthetic active systems – either colloidal, actuated with magnetic fields, or biochemical, consisting of biopolymers and motor proteins.
Biological cilia are cellular appendages that propel fluid by beating in an asymmetric fashion. They are involved in the propulsion of microorganisms, mucous clearance from airways, left-right asymmetry establishment in embryonic development, signalling in brain and many more. We are investigating the questions how biological cilia interact with each other and how this affects their energetic efficiency.
In close collaboration with experimental groups we are involved in the development and understanding of artificial systems that mimic the function of biological cilia. Magnetically actuated cilia consist of paramagnetic beads that can be moved by rotating the direction of the externally applied field. Synthetic cilia use microtubules and motor proteins (kinesins or dyneins) that self-organize their activity in a way that leads to spontaneous oscillations or wave propagation. We are investigating both the oscillation mechanisms and the collective behaviour of hydrodynamically interacting synthetic cilia.