Understanding the physics of living systems allows us to design new materials that are active and adaptive, akin to cells and tissues. Conversely, these active matter systems can reveal fundamental principles in physics and biology. In this talk, I will discuss three systems that feature this synergy, ranging from the molecular to the organismic scale. First, we consider the artificial microtubule, a new biomedical device that delivers microrobots into narrow microvascular channels. Second, we consider how a school of swimming bacteria can carry along nutrients, and how self-propelled droplets can transport cargo. Third, we consider anisotropic diffusion near active coating materials and bacterial biofilms. In each of these examples, surprising effects emerge due to their non-equilibrium nature. Indeed, elucidating active matter remains an unsolved challenge with exciting consequences across the disciplines.
Arnold Mathijssen was named ‘30 under 30’ by Scientific American and was awarded the Sir Sam Edwards PhD Thesis Prize for his work in the group of Julia Yeomans FRS at the University Oxford (2016). Supported by an HFSP cross-disciplinary fellowship, he moved to the lab of Manu Prakash at Stanford University, where the American Physical Society presented him the Charles Kittel Award (2019). Arnold is now Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy at UPenn, guest editor of the journal Physics of Fluids, and co-chair of the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS/GRC) on Active and Adaptive Materials, to be held in Ventura, California, in January 2023.
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