University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Engineering Department Mechanics Colloquia Research Seminars > Active Cell Mechanics

Active Cell Mechanics

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  • UserProfessor Ulrich Schwarz, Institute for Theoretical Physics and BioQuant, Heidelberg University, Germany
  • ClockFriday 08 February 2019, 14:00-15:00
  • HouseDepartment of Engineering - LR4.

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Tea and coffee will be available in the foyer after the seminar

Biological cells use non-equilibrium processes to actively generate forces, movement and growth. Some of these processes can be reconstituted in biomimetic experiments with active soft matter, nurturing the vision of a synthetic cell built from the bottom-up. In this talk, I will first discuss how and why kilopascal traction stresses are generated by adherent cells, and how they can be measured. Surprisingly, quantitative experiments such as cell shape analysis, laser cutting or optogenetic control of cell mechanics reveal elastic properties for cellular systems that tend to flow on a molecular scale. I will discuss how these contractile systems can be mathematically described by continuum mechanics extended by active elements. This theoretical framework not only predicts the typical traction stress patterns measured on soft elastic substrates for cells and cell monolayers, but also explains why cells mechanically communicate in cell monolayers over a typical distance of 170 micrometers.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Mechanics Colloquia Research Seminars series.

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