Séminaire PMMH - Alain Goriely, University of Oxford

Vendredi 2 juin de 11h00 à 12h00 - Salle réunion PMMH 1

From neurons and sunflowers to elephant trunks : the fascinating dynamics of smart active filaments.

The world around us, both natural and man-made, is filled with structures that respond to external stimuli and adapt their internal structures to perform specific functions. For example, plants have the ability to sense changes in their environment, such as changes in gravity or light, and modify their shape accordingly to survive. During development, neurons respond to their surroundings by growing and connecting different parts of the brain. Additionally, the arms of octopuses and trunks of elephants are stunning examples of the versatility and beauty of responsive structures that inspire the development of soft robotics. In the field of engineering, liquid crystal elastomers can be designed to respond to light or heat, offering exciting opportunities for new devices and actuators.

In this talk, I will delve into the theory of sensing and material activation, with a focus on slender structures such as active filaments. I will propose a unified mathematical framework to model how multiple stimuli can be combined at the microscopic level to produce changes at the macroscopic level. This framework will allow us to uncover general principles for microstructure organization and activation. Furthermore, the feedback loop created by shape-shifting in response to external sources can produce complex dynamics similar to natural behaviors, providing elegant solutions to functional problems.