CANES Seminar--Universality in active matter

Dr Chiu Fan Lee

Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London

Wednesday 15 November 2017
Time: 4pm
Venue: King's College London, Strand Campus, Strand Building, Room S-2.08
Contact: CANES Centre Manager
Tel: 02078847951

Active matter has received intense attention from physicists because of its importance to non-equilibrium physics and biological physics. But how different is active matter from equilibrium and non-equilibrium matter that we are familiar with? If one focuses on the large distance behaviour of a system, a powerful, stringent and unambiguous way to quantity novelty is to use renormalisation group analysis to determine whether the system’s behaviour constitutes a novel universality class (UC). This is the approach I will take in this talk. Specifically, I will start by discussing the symmetries underlying the Ising model and how the corresponding universal behaviour emerges. I will then generalise the Ising model to the active regime and discuss the emergence of other UCs. After that I will discuss the symmetries underlying the incompressible Navier-Stokes equation, generalise it to the active regime and elucidate the various UCs associated to incompressible active fluids. Overall, we will encounter eight distinct UCs in this talk, three of which are novel UCs discovered in active matter.


  • Short bio: I obtained a Joint Honours Degree in Mathematics and Physics from McGill University, with an Honours Thesis on Number Theory and Elliptic Curves. I then studied at Cambridge University for a Master of Advanced Study degree in Mathematics, specialising in quantum information theory and theoretical physics, and then at Oxford University for my DPhil. After my DPhil, I stayed in Oxford as a research fellow and gradually switched my research focus to biological physics. I then worked in the Biological Physics Division at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden before taking up my lectureship at Imperial College London in 2012. I now investigate universal behaviour in biology. Specific systems of interest are protein amyloid self-assembly and pathogenesis, phase separation in the cell cytoplasm, and active matter.


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