Particle physics research

ITMO University and Bosch launch active matter physics research project

ITMO University and the Bosch company have signed an agreement to conduct research in the field of active matter physics, a field so far not studied in Russia. As part of the joint project, researchers are working with clusters of macro- and microparticles that can migrate and cluster in new structures. In the future, this project will lead to new technologies for the energy industry, manufacturing and healthcare.

Image credit: ITMO University

Active matter physics is an emerging field that is developing rapidly around the world. However, until now there was no specialized research group on this topic in Russia. To study the physics of active matter, scientists analyze particles that, like bacterial colonies or schools of fish, can organize themselves collectively by transforming their internal energy into mechanical motion. The researchers hope that by unraveling the fundamental phenomena of these systems, they will be able to develop intelligent materials with controllable properties and functions. Particle arrays are a particularly promising platform for applications in microstructuring, energy conversion, targeted drug delivery, and as a material for the creation of various shape sensors and detectors.

“We were fortunate to become the first Russian research group capable of producing active materials at any scale, from robotic assemblies to microparticles. When we make a material active, the equations that describe it become more complex. They are starting to describe a lot of interesting physical phenomena that make it possible to control the spatial organization of particles. With our Bosch collaborators, we will go through a complete research cycle, from the formulation of a hypothesis and the execution of theoretical calculations to the numerical modeling and experimental implementation of such systems ”, says Nikita Olekhno, researcher in the physics faculty of ITMO.

The planned research project will have three key stages. First, there is a theoretical study and numerical modeling of particle systems with different sizes, shapes and behaviors. Then, the predicted effects will be tested on macroscopic particle systems, such as tiny mobile robots whose characteristics can be controlled with precision. Finally, given the success of the previous step, ITMO researchers will implement the proposed system at the microscopic scale by synthesizing such intelligent materials. These steps can be repeated several times, depending on the number of interesting effects discovered in the digital simulations.

“In the near future, we would like to test an idea that no one has studied before, namely to experiment with active particles with radically broken symmetry. Nikita’s team has already created a hundred small droplet-shaped robots to test our hypotheses. We will now study how to assemble them in the desired geometry and how we can apply such phenomena in practice ”, explains Timofey Kruglov, the chief engineer of Bosch’s Russian technology office, who came up with the idea and started the project

So far, the project has produced its first fundamental results. However, in the next 5-7 years, scientists plan to identify potential applications that will be commercialized and used as the technological basis for the company’s future products.

As a technology company, Bosch believes it is important to plan how we will act in the future and what kind of technologies we need to produce over the next 50 years. The study of the active ingredient will open up new opportunities in the most promising fields, such as health, the energy industry and manufacturing. We are certain that the ideas that we develop will have a solid theoretical basis and will be implemented experimentally thanks to our new strategic partner, ITMO University ”, concludes Alexander Borisov, director of Bosch’s research department in Russia.