Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Non-Equilibrium Soft Solids - Colloids and Cell Mechanics

Maria Kilfoil
McGill University

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
3:30 PM @ Stirling A

Abstract:

We use colloidal systems to study nonequilibrium structure and dynamics, particularly in gels and glasses. We also use colloids as probes in biological systems. I will discuss the physics of hard spheres, and then explain how non-equilibrium solids arise from crowding or added attractions. I will show results of microscopic, real-space measurements of the structural relaxations in a model colloidal system at the fluid-to- non-equilibrium solid transition using confocal microscopy. We are do this in gels and extend our studies to attractive glasses and hard sphere glasses. These studies give direct insights into the collective nature of the dynamics in these nonequilibrium structures. In the second part of my talk, I will describe the mechanical functions, generic across all cells, of cytoskeleton - the network of fibres that comprise the cell's dynamic scaffolding. I will discuss the state of the art in the very exciting and rapidly developing area of the mechanical properties of the cytoskelton, show our measurements of the mechanical properties of one component of the cytoskeleton, and end with recent developments towards a minimal model for cell mechanics.

Refreshments will be available 15 mins before the talk.