With remarkable precision and reproducibility, cells orchestrate the cooperative action of thousands of nanometre-sized molecular motors to carry out mechanical tasks at much larger length scales, such as cell motility, division and replication. Besides their biological importance, such inherently non-equilibrium processes suggest approaches for developing biomimetic active materials from microscopic components that consume energy to generate continuous motion. Being actively driven, these materials are not constrained by the laws of equilibrium statistical mechanics and can thus exhibit sought-after properties such as autonomous motility, internally generated flows and self-organized beating.
Spontaneous motion in hierarchically assembled active matter
Tim Sanchez, Daniel T. N. Chen, Stephen J. DeCamp, Michael Heymann & Zvonimir Dogic
Nature 491, 431–434 (15 November 2012)