Physics of Living Matter

Principal Investigator: Associate Prof. Anupam Sengupta


The Physics of Living Matter Group looks at LIFE, or as we put it, Living In Fluctuating Environments, using a cross-disciplinary approach. LIFE bridges the physics of FLOW (matter & information) and FORM (geometry, order & topology) to uncover biological FUNCTIONS (behavior & traits) in microbial systems.

We apply principles of Soft and Active Matter Physics and Modelling techniques to understand – in (micro) Biologically relevant settings – how microbes like bacteria, archaea and algae adapt to changes in their environment. Following are some of the representative researchers in our lab (details here):
1) Active microbial response under fluctuating environments
2) Topology mediated adaptive mechanics in soft and living matter
3) Biophysics of Transport & Sensing at the Microbiome-Human Interface

The Physics of Living Matter Group, embedded within the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit, and enjoys exciting interfaces with the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine and the Luxembourg Institute of Health.

Selected publications:

1) Phytoplankton can actively diversify their migration strategy in response to turbulent cues: Sengupta et al., Nature 543, 2017..
2) Hydrodynamic cavitation in Stokes flow of anisotropic fluids: Stieger, …., & Sengupta, Nature Comm. 8, 2017.
3) Cross-talk between topological defects in different fields revealed by nematic microfluidics: Giomi, …., & Sengupta, PNAS 114, 2017.
4) Topological Microfluidics: A. Sengupta, Springer International Publishing, ISBN: 978-3-319-00857-8, 2013.
5) Liquid crystal microfluidics for tunable flow shaping: Sengupta et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 048303, 2013.

Connections to other local activities:

– Wilmes (LCSB): Human-microbiome interfaces

– Desai (LIH): Gut health and microbiome

– Skupiin (LCSB): Super-resolution imaging, microfuidics, OMICS

– Esposito (PhyMS RU): Cost benefit analysis in microbial ecosystems

– Lagerwall (PhyMS RU): Biomaterials in nature

Connections to other international activities:

-IGB Berlin, Germany (

-Baltic Sea Research, Warnemuende, Germany (

-SUPSI, Switzerland (

-ETH Zurich, Switzerland (


Weizmann Institute, Israel (

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship awarded to Irvine Ong:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 897629.