Science and Engineering at The University of Edinburgh

Seminars & Discussions

Week beginning 22 February 2015

Monday 23 Feb 15 - 1:00pm

Lunchtime Seminars

Microrheology with Optical Tweezers: Principles and Applications

Manilio Tassieri (Univeristy of Edinburgh)

ince their first appearance in the 1970s [1], optical tweezers (OT) have been extensively developed and have proved to be an invaluable tool for a variety of applications throughout the natural sciences. From a mechanical point of view, OT can be considered as exceptionally sensitive transducers able to resolve pN forces and nm displacements, with high temporal resolution (down to μsec). The physics underpinning the working principles of the OT relies on the ability of a focused laser beam to trap, in 3D, micron-sized dielectric particles suspended in a fluid. Accessing the time-dependent trajectory of a micron-sphere, to high spatial and temporal resolution, is one of the basic principles behind microrheology techniques. Microrheology is a branch of rheology, but it works at micron length scales and with micro-litre sample volumes. Therefore, microrheology techniques are revealed to be very useful tools for all those rheological studies where rare or precious materials are employed; e.g., in biomedical studies [2]. In the case of microrheology with OT of ‘complex fluids’, Tassieri et al. [3] have provided the solution to a long-standing issue: i.e., the evaluation of the fluids’ linear viscoelastic properties from the analysis of a finite set of experimental data, describing (for instance) the time-dependent mean-square displacement of suspended probe particles experiencing Brownian fluctuations. In particular, they showed, for the first time in the literature, the linear viscoelastic response of an optically trapped bead suspended in a Newtonian fluid, over the entire range of experimentally accessible frequencies; both for synthetic and real experimental data. In addition, the new method has been validated by direct comparison with conventional bulk rheology methods, and has been applied both to characterise synthetic linear polyelectrolytes solutions and to study important biomedical samples. Notably, the general validity of the proposed method makes it transferable to the majority of microrheology and rheology techniques. [1] Ashkin A., Phys. Rev. Lett., 24 (1970). [2] Robertson E.J., et al., J. Infect. Dis. (2013). [3] Tassieri M. et al., New J. Phys. 14, (2012).

Friday 27 Feb 15 - 11:30am - JCMB 2511

Journal Club

Swim Pressure: Stress Generation in Active Matter

Authors: S.C. Takatori, W. Yan, J.F. Brady

Speaker: Tom Ives

We discover a new contribution to the pressure (or stress) exerted by a suspension of self-propelled bodies. Through their self-motion, all active matter systems generate a unique swim pressure that is entirely athermal in origin. The origin of the swim pressure is based upon the notion that an active body would swim away in space unless confined by boundaries - this confinement pressure is precisely the swim pressure. Here we give the micromechanical basis for the swim stress and use this new perspective to study self-assembly and phase separation in active soft matter. The swim pressure gives rise to a nonequilibrium equation of state for active matter with pressure-volume phase diagrams that resemble a van der Waals loop from equilibrium gas-liquid coexistence. Theoretical predictions are corroborated by Brownian dynamics simulations. Our new swim stress perspective can help analyze and exploit a wide class of active soft matter, from swimming bacteria to catalytic nanobots to molecular motors that activate the cellular cytoskeleton.
PRL 113 article 028103 (2014)
pdf version

Upcoming meetings

Monday 2 Mar 15 - 1:00pm - Room 2511

Lunchtime Seminars

To be confirmed

Thijs Besseling (Utrecht)

Friday 6 Mar 15 - 11:30am - JCMB 2511

Journal Club

To be confirmed

Davide Marenduzzo

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