Living Matter: Mesoscopic Active Materials

Anne Bernheim-Groswasser, Nir S. Gov, Samuel A. Safran, Shelly Tzlil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


An introduction to the physical properties of living active matter at the mesoscopic scale (tens of nanometers to micrometers) and their unique features compared with “dead,” nonactive matter is presented. This field of research is increasingly denoted as “biological physics” where physics includes chemical physics, soft matter physics, hydrodynamics, mechanics, and the related engineering sciences. The focus is on the emergent properties of these systems and their collective behavior, which results in active self-organization and how they relate to cellular-level biological function. These include locomotion (cell motility and migration) forces that give rise to cell division, the growth and form of cellular assemblies in development, the beating of heart cells, and the effects of mechanical perturbations such as shear flow (in the bloodstream) or adhesion to other cells or tissues. An introduction to the fundamental concepts and theory with selected experimental examples related to the authors’ own research is presented, including red-blood-cell membrane fluctuations, motion of the nucleus within an egg cell, self-contracting acto-myosin gels, and structure and beating of heart cells (cardiomyocytes), including how they can be driven by an oscillating, mechanical probe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1707028
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number41
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2018


  • active matter
  • biological physics
  • cell mechanics
  • soft matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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