Admission Requirements none
Building This course aims to provide an introduction to the mechanics of soft materials, of which biological materials are prominent examples. Soft materials are those that can be easily deformed by external stress, electromagnetic fields or thermal fluctuations: in other words everything that is wet, squishy or floppy.
Fundamental concepts of continuum mechanics
From particles to volume elements: the continuum hypothesis
Strain and strain-rate
Conservation laws in liquids and solids
Constitutive equations for liquids and solids
Cauchy-Navier and Navier-Stokes equations
Examples of time independent flows
Walking on liquids and other exotic properties of viscoelastic fluids
Basic properties of polymer chains
Random walks and ideal chains
Force-extension of an ideal chain
Self-avoiding chains and Flory’s theory
Semiflexible polymers: the wormlike chain
Stretching DNA: the Marko-Siggia interpolation formula
The zoo of liquid crystals: nematics, smectics, cholesterics, hexatics and more
Equilibrium configuration in nematics
Topological defects in nematics
Coupling to external fields and the Fredericks transition
Remarks on the physics of living systems
Collective behavior in animal groups: swarming/flocking/schooling and the Vicsek model
Collective behavior in robots and sperm
Active liquid crystals and the cell cytoskeleton
Spontaneous flow in active nematics
Active flow in proximity of topological defects
Cell mimicry in active droplets
Mechanics of adherent cells
Actin cytoskeleton and cell adhesion
Basic concepts of cell motility
The Young-Laplace law and the contractile network model
The effect of anisotropy and the Schakenraad ellipse
The course main objective is to provide the students with a solid core-knowledge on the mechanics of soft and biomaterials, such that, after the course, the students will have enough background to independently learn about these topics from the specialized literature. In order to encourage this latter aspect, the course will consist of a combination of lectures and seminars given by the students.
Mode of instruction
Lectures and student seminars.
The grade will be assigned based on homework (1/3) and a final project consisting of a short essay (1/3) and an oral presentation on a research paper selected from the literature (1/3).
To have access to Blackboard you need a ULCN-account.Blackboard UL
The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.