Living matter possesses fascinating material properties. Cells and tissues comprise viscoelastic materials with a resemblance to man-made soft materials such as polymer gels. However, they are unique in their ability to actively generate forces and change shape. We aim to understand the physical mechanisms that underlie this striking active mechanical behavior.
We approach this challenge by combining concepts and techniques from soft matter physics, biophysics, synthetic biology, and mechanobiology. We develop advanced measurement techniques that combine quantitative imaging with force measurements across length scales ranging from the cell/tissue level down to molecular scales. This includes rheology combined with imaging or small angle X-ray scattering, optical tweezer force spectroscopy, micropipette aspiration, and optical microrheology.
Our work is highly interdisciplinary, contributing a physics component to cell biology and regenerative medicine, and a biological perspective on materials design.
We have two main research lines: