We are active matter. From the subcellular processes occurring within a living cell to the large-scale collective dynamics of human crowds or animal flocks, systems driven far from equilibrium by a sustained flux of energy through its constituents routinely exhibit stunning emergent phenomena that pose fundamental challenges to our understanding of the natural world. While we know much about the complex patterns and dynamics exhibited by active systems, little is known about the inverse problem of controlling active matter in space-time for functional purposes. After briefly reviewing some of the tools employed to understand paradigmatic active phenomena, I will discuss current work on searching for design principles to control autonomous dynamics of localized excitations, drops etc., of active materials. I will conclude by highlighting future directions for embodying function, programmable response and computation in biological and synthetic active systems.
Noyce Conference Room
US Mountain Time