HMC Physics Colloquium

Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460

Janet Y. Sheung

WM Keck Science Center

Active Matter: The Cell From a Physics Perspective

March 29, 2022

The cells inside our bodies are inherently non-equilibrium materials, able to dynamically change their mechanical properties in response to environmental demands. Scientists have hoped to better understand this kind of active matter for a long time, not simply for the potential advances to medical treatments but also to open the door to the design of futuristic biomimetic materials. In this talk I will describe how my students and I combine purified cell components in the lab to create toy model (very) minimal cells, and how we use a custom microscope equipped with optical tweezers to investigate the real-time restructuring and force response of these materials. Our results show that constant energy consumption allows the cell to switch between solid-like and liquid-like behavior. Lastly, I will share current projects in my lab building on this work.