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An international team led by Professor Yilin Wu, Associate Professor of the Department of Physics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has made a novel conceptual advance in the field of active matter science. The team discovered a new route in which the self-organization of active fluids in space and time can be controlled by a single material property called viscoelasticity. This new finding may pave the way for fabricating a new class of self-driven devices and materials, such as the ability to control the rhythmic movement of soft robots without relying on electronic circuits, and for the study of microbial physiology. It has been published in the scientific journal Nature.

A fast growing and interdisciplinary field, active matter science studies systems consist of units where energy is spent locally to generate mechanical work. Active matter includes all living organisms from cells to animals, biopolymers driven by molecular motors, and synthetic self-propelled materials. Self-organization (the process of producing ordered structures via interaction between individual units) principles learned from these systems may find applications in and in fabricating new bio-inspired devices or materials.

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