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Laboratory for Molecular Rheology of Complex Fluids

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We are interested in firstly understanding how the microstructure and dynamics of complex fluids determines their macroscale behaviour, and then in translating that understanding into novel and useful applications.

Our current focus is on the behaviour of living matter at the cellular and sub-cellular levels, as exemplified by suspensions of motile bacteria, or by the membrane-cytoskeletal assemblage within eucaryotic cells. Such "active" materials are collectives of entities that constantly push and pull their neighbours, and are known for their ability for self-organization (e.g. pattern formation in surface colonies of motile bacteria; cytoskeletal reorganization in filopodal or lamellipodal cell migration, endocytosis, cell-divison). Can we describe the macroscale behaviour of such living collectives by thinking of them as continuum materials, governed by rheological equations of state? Exciting new developments indicate that this may be the case. If so, how can we relate the deformation and stresses in such materials to interactions at the microscale between the individual entities that make up these fluids? Further, can we understand how these "very smart fluids" regulate their own mechanics to achieve controlled motion? And therefore, can we build soft artificial microbots that can swim or crawl on their own, or soft microreactors whose walls can open and close to transport material in and out? We seek to answer these questions by combining ex- and in-silico experiments with mathematical modeling.

We belong to the Molecular Rheology group at Monash University

Dr. Prabhakar Ranganathan
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Monash University
Rm. no. 123, Bldg. 31
VIC - 3800

Ph: +613 9905 3480
Email: prabhakar.ranganathan@monash.edu