Research Topic

Active and Intelligent Living Matter: from Fundamentals to Applications

About this Research Topic

Animal herds, flocks of birds, colonies of ants, and microorganisms all display fascinating examples of coordinated, collective motion. The physical community has made considerable progress in the understanding of basic principles governing these living systems. For macroscopic systems, visual or other sensing mechanisms can produce sophisticated group coordination; in microscopic systems, hydrodynamic interactions, steric forces, topological constraints, or quorum sensing mechanisms have been recognized as driving forces for a myriad of active systems and their collective effects. Novel experimental techniques (often aided by machine learning techniques) allow now to observe and track hundreds of individuals (be it birds, colloids, or bacteria), and this knowledge is producing a novel understanding of the complex physics present in all these systems.

Yet all investigations so far have scarcely addressed the main feature of living matter: the responsive and adaptive functionality of active systems. Shoals of fish or epithelial tissue cells both respond to environmental stimuli. How to design a biological or synthetic active system with intelligent responsiveness built-in? This new frontier of living matter research has the potential to usher in important advances in the biomedical sciences, for example, by controlling the spread of biofilms; in technological applications with robotic swarms that accomplish a specific task with minimal centralized control; or in smart drug delivery actuated by liposomes.

This Research Topic calls for both Review and Original Research contributions that address topics in this extremely fecund area of research. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

- Experimental and theoretical study of active matter.
- Active colloids.
- Tissue mechanics.
- Cytoskeletal and microtubule dynamics.
- Active colloids or emulsions.
- Neural activity.
- Biofilms.
- Group coordination in animals.
- Applications to Artificial Intelligence.


Keywords: Active matter, Active colloids, Tissue mechanics, Microswimmers


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Animal herds, flocks of birds, colonies of ants, and microorganisms all display fascinating examples of coordinated, collective motion. The physical community has made considerable progress in the understanding of basic principles governing these living systems. For macroscopic systems, visual or other sensing mechanisms can produce sophisticated group coordination; in microscopic systems, hydrodynamic interactions, steric forces, topological constraints, or quorum sensing mechanisms have been recognized as driving forces for a myriad of active systems and their collective effects. Novel experimental techniques (often aided by machine learning techniques) allow now to observe and track hundreds of individuals (be it birds, colloids, or bacteria), and this knowledge is producing a novel understanding of the complex physics present in all these systems.

Yet all investigations so far have scarcely addressed the main feature of living matter: the responsive and adaptive functionality of active systems. Shoals of fish or epithelial tissue cells both respond to environmental stimuli. How to design a biological or synthetic active system with intelligent responsiveness built-in? This new frontier of living matter research has the potential to usher in important advances in the biomedical sciences, for example, by controlling the spread of biofilms; in technological applications with robotic swarms that accomplish a specific task with minimal centralized control; or in smart drug delivery actuated by liposomes.

This Research Topic calls for both Review and Original Research contributions that address topics in this extremely fecund area of research. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

- Experimental and theoretical study of active matter.
- Active colloids.
- Tissue mechanics.
- Cytoskeletal and microtubule dynamics.
- Active colloids or emulsions.
- Neural activity.
- Biofilms.
- Group coordination in animals.
- Applications to Artificial Intelligence.


Keywords: Active matter, Active colloids, Tissue mechanics, Microswimmers


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 November 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 November 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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