Institute for the Physics of Living Systems


Physics of cells

physics of cells

Research Synopsis

One of the most fascinating properties of cells is their ability to change shape to migrate, divide, or adapt to changes in their environment. While the cytoskeletal proteins and signalling and signalling networks involved in morphogenesis have been the focus of much research, we know significantly less about the physics of shape change. 

More generally, we do not understand how cellular physics emerges from the myriad of interactions taking place within the cell at the molecular scale. This is challenging because cells operate out of thermodynamic equilibrium through constant chemical energy consumption, which gives rise to phenomena unknown in traditional physics. Furthermore, cells can fundamentally alter their state and physics in response to external cues through the action of signalling.

Example techniques:

  • Microfluidics
  • Atomic force microscopy