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Brandeis wins $1 million Keck Foundation grant to research active matter
Date:1/7/2010

Waltham, MABrandeis University announced today a $1 million, three-year award from the W.M. Keck Foundation to help support experimental research into a new category of materials known as active matter. The project seeks to elucidate the behavior of active matter at length scales ranging from the microscopic to the macroscopic.

Unlike inert materials such as steel or plastic, active matter can move on its own, displaying properties previously observed only in living materials such as muscles and cells. The project will leverage the university's pioneering, interdisciplinary approach to research at the intersection of biology and physics. Last year, Brandeis joined an elite group of universities when it won a highly-competitive $7.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to begin interdisciplinary research on active matter.

"Brandeis has been at the forefront of recent advances in materials science and biology, both in studying the properties of materials occurring in biological systems, and in understanding the role of material properties in the structure and function of cells and cellular components," said principal investigator Seth Fraden, an expert on colloidal liquid crystals and microfluidics.

Many biological systems display self-organized and distinctive dynamic states at the macroscalethink flocking birds, schooling fish, or swarming bacteria. Similarly, at the mesoscale, cellular motility, and at the microscale or sub-cellular level, cytoskeletal reorganization, represent distinctive dynamic states. All these systems are examples of active matter: they consume energy to generate movement, or stress, in space or time.

"In this project, we will exploit biology in order to make advances in active matter, which has become a frontier field in soft matter physics," said physicist Zvonimir Dogic, who uses optical microscopy to study self-assembly of biopolymers. "In return, our understanding of non-equilibrium p
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Contact: Laura Gardner
gardner@brandeis.edu
781-736-4204
Brandeis University
Source:Eurekalert

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