Biocompatible Nanomaterials

mawi-913: Cell Mechanics


The students will get a general overview over the mechanical properties of cells and their origin. In particular, the course will enable the students to

  • predict the physical properties of a polymer under given conditions and apply this knowledge to the most common biological polymers in cells.
  • use elasticity theory in two and three dimensions, predict properties of networks with different number of coordinations and symmetries, e.g. in membrane-associated networks.
  • estimate the forces between surfaces of living organisms, e.g. in adhesion processes.
  • understand the origin of simple motion of living organisms and design principles for e.g. achieving an optimum size.
  • have basic knowledge on experimental techniques for studying physical properties of living matter, in particular cell-material interactions.
A very important aspect of this highly interdisciplinary course is that the students will learn to understand the different language of biology and in this way increase their competence to carry out interdisciplinary research in general. By working with recent research articles, the students will learn to work with literature and get knowledge about the status of international research. "The course focuses on the mechanical properties of living cells. Particular emphasis will be given to the interaction of cells and materials. Content of the lectures: 1. Introduction to cell organization and structure 2. Mechanical properties of polymers 3. 2D and 3D polymer networks 4. Intermembrane forces 5. Dynamic filaments 6. Molecular motors 7. Mechanical design of cells 8. Cell adhesion 9. Imaging the cell-material contact 10. Force measurements on cells 11. Cell-material interactions


Recommended literature

David Boal: Mechanics of the Cell, Cambridge University Press, 2001. Additional literature (scientific articles, notes) will be handed out during the course.