The Micro-Nano-Fluidics meeting took place in Toulouse (France) in September 2021. This conference was organized by a french research group and covered mainly 6 topics: Nanofluidics, Chemical Engineering, Flow-waves interactions, Flow chemistry, Diagnostics and clinics, Organ-on-Chip. Audrey and Jesús attended the 2 days conference and presented their poster. Audrey’s poster was focused on the development of a microfluidic platform for sperm sorting, while Jesús’s poster described his work on microfluidic droplet generation for bacteria encapsulation and biofilm studies. This national conference was a great opportunity for both ESRs to meet other researchers in microfluidics and discuss about applications in Active Matter.
On the 20th of September, the last round table of the Initial Training on Theoretical Methods took place. The discussion was let by the ESRs David, Sandrine, Liam, Carolina, Danne, and Laura. We were excited by the presence of an inspiring panel composed of Felix Ritort, Roberto Cerbino, Kirsty Wan, Fabio Giavazzi, Bernhard Mehlig, and François Nédélec.
The quote “If a system is in equilibrium, it’s probably death” ignited a lively and dynamic discussion around the topic of this final round table: “The universality of active matter: From biology to man-made models.”
Several topics were discussed ranging from active matter length scales and entropy production, to the equipartition theorem and universality. The session left us pondering about the definition of active matter: From single cells to the galaxy, where does the definition of active matter end? Our panelists conclude that it all depend on the question we ask ourselves. The round table was closed with a highlight of the most interesting avenues and opportunities in active matter, including the merge information and activity, realization of in vivo systems, as well as the manipulation of soft matter systems. Some inspiring words from one of the panelists let us realize: “We are the future of active matter.”
The fourth round table of the theoretical training took place with the participation of our panelists: Hartmut Löwen, Joakim Stenhammar, Holger Stark and Ramin Golestanian. The organizing ESRs were Ayten Gülce Bayram, Chun-Jen Chen, Jérémie Bertrand, Jesus Manuel Antunez Dominguez, Ojus Satish Bagal, Alireza Khoshzaban and Umar Rauf. The discussion mainly addressed to “Theoretical Models for Active matter”.
The discussion started with how the activity is included in theoretical models and how activity terms change depending on the particles system. It is followed by the theoretical aspects of going from one particle to the many-particle system and the relevant interaction terms in the theoretical models. Next, we mentioned the challenges behind the solvent-particle interaction, especially where we have complex solvents like a viscoelastic solvent. In this regard, our guests pointed out the importance of hydrodynamics. The meeting was concluded with the final remarks of our guests on the discussion that we should keep in mind in our future studies on active matter physics.
In our third round table we had the pleasure of Gareth Alexander, Ignacio Pagonabarraga and Julia Yeomans as our guest panellists. This time the overall theme was “Fluids and Active Matter” and hosted by Chun-Jen Chen, Davide Breoni, Danne van Roon, Audrey Nsamela, Dana Hassan and Sandrine Heijnen.
It started out with an interesting discussion regarding the motivation to get in and what amazes them the most in the field of active matter. Here it became clear that active systems can have their passive counterparts, and works for easy transitions from active to passive systems, but at the same time, such active systems still have the potential to answer many fundamental questions. From this topic, one of the key takeaways was that the project that you are currently working on should be the subject that amazes you the most.
The next topic that stood as the centre of the discussion was turbulence. Turbulence is an interesting phenomenon where a lot of things are still unknown. The intriguing concept here was that real, or fluid-dynamical, turbulence is different from active turbulence. As a clarification, Julia Yeomans introduced the following comparison. Real turbulence is observed in a waterfall where the energy follows the Kolmogorov cascade. In active turbulence, the energy originates from the individual particles moving and does not follow the same energy trend as real turbulence.
As one of the final topics, we were wondering what are the main takeaways regarding active nematics, especially if it’s not your field. We got it set for you in four points. One, it is fundamentally unstable and therefore creates flows. Point number two, motile topological effects. Number three, the potential connection it has to biological systems and the ability to explain similar processes. Finally, number four, the fact that we are looking at non-equilibrium systems.
Today the second round table of the Initial Training on Theoretical Methods took place, entitled “Theoretical aspects of collective behavior”. The round table was hosted by ESRs David, Jesus, Ojus, Carolina, Alireza, Dana, and Umar. The inspiring group of speakers included Margarida Telo da Gama, Fernando Peruani, Nicoletta Gnan, and Claudio Maggi.
Many matters were discussed, ranging from the limits of collective behavior and the role of communication in emergence, to the compatibility between experiments and theory of collective behavior. Examples can be found in both natural and artificial environments, even combinations with varying degrees of active motion. This adds to the challenge of defining valuable, even if not accurate, models. At the core, collective behavior highlights how the system can be much more than just the sum of individual entities.
The first round table in the theoretical training gave a chance to start an interesting discussion which will continue in the following meetings.
The organizing ESRs were Ayten Gülce Bayram, Laura Natali, Liam Ruske, Jérémie Bertrand, Davide Breoni and Audrey Nsamela. They welcomed and introduced the three guests of the session: Nuno Araújo from the University of Lisbon, Jan Wehr from the University of Arizona and Denis Bartolo from École normale supérieure de Lyon.
The round table started with a personal question to the speakers about their interests and motivations for working in theoretical active matter. Having different backgrounds, the answers were very different, Nuno was attracted by non-intuitive behaviors observed in active matter experiments, while Jan started from a purely mathematical point of view and then moved towards physics of active systems. Denis provided another motivation, being head of a lab that deals with both theory and experiments.
The following discussion focused on the interaction and hierarchy between theory, simulations, and experiments. They all agree that establishing a constructive collaboration with experimental groups is not easy, but at the same time, it can have many benefits for both sides. However, none of the three elements is necessary for the others: a good paper can be presenting a theory not connected with experiments, even if its possible applications are not foreseeable yet. Denis firmly pointed out the difference between the observations and the tools (theoretical, numerical, and experimental) employed to explain it.
We also had a few more specific questions for the speakers, such as the distinctions in thinking between mathematicians and theoretical physicists, the possible applications to financial markets, and the differences in modeling artificial flocks and human crowds, which are often controlled by non-hydrodynamic variables.
We concluded the meeting by asking every one of our guests their tips for communicating the theory of active matter to a larger public. Here the answers were more relaxed and can be summed up as: trying to avoid technical and mathematical details while explaining the importance of the research problems, also using more familiar examples such as simulations employed in animation movies.