PHY565 - Physics of living systems: fluctuations, self-organization and active matter

From a physical point of view, living entities are complex systems with spectacular properties: for example, living cells can exert forces on their environment, divide, self-propel, or assemble into organs of complex shapes. These unusual physical properties arise from the fact that living cells - and more generally living systems - constantly consume energy at the microscopic scale, and are therefore non-equilibrium systems (also called active).

The objective of the course is to understand some remarkable properties of cells and cellular collectives - migration, shape, collective behaviors, pattern formation - that correspond to crucial biological functions, as emerging from basic physical mechanisms that are generic to non-equilibrium systems.

The course will present the basic theoretical tools needed to describe living matter, from soft matter physics, from equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical physics, and will present an introduction to the physics of active matter. Theoretical developments will be systematically placed in a biological context and illustrated by recent experimental results.


Prerequisites: No strict prerequisites in physics as well as in biology, although a basic knowledge in general physics (statistical physics) is recommended. This course is independent and complementary to PHY552B.
Language: English and/or French depending on audience