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Spinning Active Matter

Project description

Study investigates the collective dynamics of 3D active matter systems

The term ‘active matter’ describes systems whose constituent elements consume energy and are thus out of equilibrium. Examples of interacting motile systems that display dazzling patterns include bird flocks, cell colonies and self-organising biopolymers. The EU-funded SpAM project plans to create 3D structures that include mechanically active materials assembled from colloidal spinners. In particular, the project aims to elucidate the interactions that dictate the collective dynamics of colloidal spinners. In addition, the study should help reveal how the intrinsic frustration of spinning motion at the microscopic scale shapes the macroscopic structure of spinning matter.


Active-matter physics describes the mesmerizing dynamics of interacting motile bodies: from bird flocks and cell colonies, to collections of synthetic units independently driven far from equilibrium. Until now, however, all man-made realizations have been merely limited to 2D model systems. We will introduce a paradigm shift to upgrade the status of synthetic active matter from aesthetic 2D experiments to genuine 3D materials with unanticipated engineering applications.

The essential goal is to construct the first generation three-dimensional active materials assembled from colloidal spinners, and to lay out the foundations of spinning active matter.

I articulate my project around three complementary aims, all based on a unique experimental platform combining high-content microfluidics, smart colloidal design, optical tweezers, and high-speed confocal imaging:

Aim 1. Spinner Interactions.
We will introduce a versatile microfluidic platform to disentangle, tailor and elucidate the pair interactions which dictate the collective dynamics of colloidal spinners.

Aim 2. Frustration-induced (dis)order.
Building first on model experiments on spinning monolayers, we will explain how the intrinsic frustration of spinning motion at the microscopic scale shapes the macroscopic structure and flows of spinning matter.

Aim 3. Spinner liquids, solids and liquid crystals.
We will then be equipped to introduce the first generation of tree dimensionnal liquids, solids and liquid crystals assembled from synthetic active matter. Combining microfluidics and high-speed confocal imaging, we will establish their phase behavior and relate their inner microscopic dynamics to their macroscopic mechanical response.



Net EU contribution
€ 2 443 276,00
Parvis rene descartes 15
69342 Lyon

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Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Rhône
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)