Our research is focused on the rules governing soft and active materials assembly. We create simple model systems with biological building blocks that are not limited to the rules of thermodynamics. This enables precise control and comparison between experiment and theory.
Biological systems are an ideal environment to study the physics of self-organization far from thermodynamical equilibrium. However, they are challenging to study due to many constraints and entangled parameters. To understand the rules governing self-assembly, we are developing novel model systems that reconstitute essential cellular functions. We borrow molecular motors and building blocks from living systems and restore their function outside of the cell, under conditions and concentrations that allow the assembly of new complex active materials. The unique capabilities of the developed system provide insight into possible mechanisms by which nanometer-sized molecules drive order. We focus on the questions: How does energy consumption change the parameter space? How do forces and symmetries propagate over different length scales? How do materials keep order?