Active matter surrounds us in everyday life at various length scales. From molecular motors to living tissue and entire organisms, such materials have in common that they do not conserve energy, leading to the large variety of time irreversible processes that we associate with life.
In this research group, we ask the question what happens if we could make the constituent particles of a material active and how the smart design of such a metamaterial determines its collective properties in order to achieve functionalities like locomotion, impact control, and vibration absorption.
We use distributed robots equipped with actuators and sensors as a platform and theory from non-Hermitian condensed matter physics and continuum mechanics to predict its dynamical behavior with the goal of eventually bridging the gap between materials and robots.
By carefully choosing and tuning the interactions between active unit cells within a larger distributed robotic material, various far-from-equilibrium phenomena such as unidirectional wave amplification, solitons and pattern formation naturally arise. Describing the way that these types of dynamical systems interact with their environment will allow the realisation of the type of autonomous and resilient robotic matter that can respond and adapt to complex and unpredictable external inputs.
Supervisors: Corentin Coulais
Research Team: Jonas Veenstra