Living matter evades the decay to equilibrium.
What is Life? Erwin Schrödinger
The Fakhri lab investigates non-equilibrium physics in living systems. Active processes in both living and non-living matter create a novel class of non-equilibrium materials composed of many interacting parts that individually consume energy. These active agents collectively generate motion and/or mechanical stresses. Active systems exhibit a wealth of intriguing properties, including anomalous fluctuations, non-equilibrium phase transitions, pattern formation on mesoscopic scales, and unusual mechanical and rheological properties. In biology, active systems span a large range of length scales, from molecules to the cytoskeleton of individual cells, to tissues, whole organisms and their collective ensembles.
We focus on identifying underlying principles of collective dynamics and complex spatiotemporal patterns in far from equilibrium biological systems. We develop experimental tools and conceptual frameworks to uncover laws governing order, phase transitions and fluctuations in systems whose individual components break time reversal symmetry.
The key questions we aim to address are:
How are these symmetries broken? What are the roles of topology and geometry in living systems, and do they serve biological functions? Can stochastic thermodynamics offer a framework for quantifying dissipation and understanding energetic landscapes in such systems?