Inverse problems and control of active matter
Department of Physics
We are active matter. From molecular motors noisily walking in living cells to the mesmerizing swirls in a starling flock, systems driven far from equilibrium by a sustained flux of energy through its constituents routinely exhibit stunning emergent phenomena that pose fundamental challenges to our understanding of the natural world. We know a lot about what patterns and dynamics active systems can exhibit, but much less is known about the inverse problem of controlling active matter. I will discuss our current work on searching for design principles to control localized excitations, drops etc., in active materials using ideas from optimal control theory and symmetry. I will conclude by highlighting future directions for embodying function, programmable response and computation in biological and synthetic active systems.