Cytoskeletal gels are intrinsically active elastic materials that design their own shape in response to system geometry

by Prof. Anne Bernheim-Groswasser

Department of Chemical Engineering and the Ilse Kats Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
at Biological and soft-matter physics

Thu, 30 Mar 2023, 12:10
Sacta-Rashi Building for Physics (54), room 207


Living systems adopt a variety of shapes. These morphologies commonly rely on contractile stresses generated by myosin motors in cytoskeletal networks. How these intrinsically active stresses arise in complex 3D shapes remains poorly understood. Here, initially flat not-prepatterned actomyosin gel discs of varying aspect ratio spontaneously self-organize into a family of 3D shapes through robust dynamical pathways. Shape deformation is encoded in system initial aspect ratio – all shapes collapse onto a universal line indicating shaping scalability. Despite the evolved dynamics and lack of pre-programming, the final configurations show surprisingly simple scaling dependence on system initial thickness and radius. Altogether, actomyosin gels form a class of intrinsically active elastic materials, designing their own shape in response to system geometry, without needing specific pre-programming and/or regulation. Our system paves the way for developing elastic active materials with controllable, molecularly induced, active stresses, to create tunable bio-soft robots with desired target shapes.

Created on 02-03-2023 by Granek, Rony (rgranek)
Updaded on 26-03-2023 by Granek, Rony (rgranek)