The last round table of this workshop regarded the topic advanced control of active matter. As organizers of round table, Audrey Nsamela, Chun-Jen Chen, Sandrine Heijnen, Harshith Bachimanchi and Alireza Khoshzaban, we welcomed and introduced our esteemed guests, namely Jérémie Palacci from University of San Diego, Clemens Bechinger from Konstanz University, Frank Cichos from Leipzig University, and Lucio Isa from ETH Zurich.
The round table started out with a clarification on advanced
control of active matter. Active matter can be controlled by numerous external stimuli but implementing control on individual particles or artificial entities is what qualifies as advanced control. Currently, the control of active matter is still far from the behavior and control micro-organisms have on that scale; hence
a big challenge lies there for us. Jérémie Palacci introduced an interesting research topic where they found a way to regulate the swimming process of E. Coli by light illumination. Here genetic modification was used to control the proton pump involved in the energy transportation process.
Advanced control of active matter can be applied to model
systems where the control is lacking, for example biological systems. In a biological system the control over an organism is limited to the external stimuli that are applied and won’t always result in the same reaction.
Therefore, using active particles showing predictable and reproducible behaviors when exposed to a stimulus works perfectly to model and to probe different parameters and thus provide a deeper understanding of the system. The fact advanced control of active matter doesn’t have an application outside of modelling
systems is something we shouldn’t be ashamed of.
We concluded the meeting by asking every one of our guests what
the promising research directions in the advanced control of active matter are.
All of them had a different perspective. Starting with Clemens Bechinger, who was most invested in the further exploration of the applications for model systems. Lucio Isa is mainly looking forward to explore the different materials that we can use to create active material that can subsequently be controlled. Frank Cichos
mentioned the importance of looking into new ways to create active particles. So far nature was able to achieve production of active entities with limited waste whereas human production is rather inefficient. Jérémie Palacci pointed out that the current man-made active matter systems are reacting to a strong signal in a well-controlled environment, where nature faces many more factors and
still works. It would be interesting to design a system that is resistant to noise.
The third round table session of the experimental training was about machine learning and its role in science, in particular physics and active matter. The panelists invited to the discussion were Carlo Manzo from Vic University, Benjamin Midtvedt and Saga Helgadottir from Gothenburg University, Onofrio Maragò and Alessandro Magazzù from CNR ICPF-Messina. The discussion was organized and lead by Jesus M. A. Dominguez, Davide Breoni, Liam Ruske, Chun-Jen Chen and Alireza Khoshzaban, who are students attending the training.
The discussion touched topics like the applications of machine learning in fields like optics, biophysics, medical research, the potentialities and the reliability of the method. Questions on when a machine learning approach is advisable and how cautious one must be when applying machine learning were also addressed. Current important logical and practical aspects of the method were also discussed, together with the need of testing machine learning applications against more classical ones. The panelists also stated the importance of reliably checking the results obtained to avoid biases that can lead to false conclusions.
After one hour of fruitful discussion we gained a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of machine learning.
As our first event with full participation of both PIs and ESRs took place on the 10th of September 2020, all ESRs had a chance to introduce their PhD projects, and benefit from the collective discussion and feedback from the other members of the network.
Chun-Jen Chen (UKONS) briefly explained the Active Brownian Colloidal (ABC) system with real-time controls to displacements and orientations of each individual ABC particles. He further demonstrated the application of such ABC system in the investigation of spontaneous collective behaviours of living systems (also more detail here by UKONS), and how he would extend the study to higher non-equilibrium and more stimulus-interactive cases, e.g. collective prey-predator interactions.
The ActiveMatter PI+ESRs meeting took place on 10 September 2020. Because of the current travel restrictions and regulations imposed to hinder the spread of the CoViD-19 epidemics, the meeting was held online.
The aim of the meeting was to give an update to all the members on the progress of the ActiveMatter network.
Currently 12 of the 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) have already been recruited and could started their project. During the meeting the ESRs had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the rest of the network and to present their research project.