My research is at the interface between soft matter, biology, hydrodynamics and statistical physics.

Active Sieving

Active sieving and separation of particles

In Nature, exceptional permeability and selectivity properties are reached in ion channels. The paradigm change as compared to nanoscale technology is that these biological filters are out-of-equilibrium, submitted to either thermal or active fluctuations – for example of the pore constriction. We investigated how out-of-equilibrium fluctuations of a pore affects translocation dynamics, and found regimes of enhanced selectivity and transport. These results open up the possibility that transport across membranes can be actively tuned by external stimuli, with potential applications to nanoscale pumping, osmosis and dynamical ultrafiltration.


Water transport at the nanoscale

Measurements and simulations have found that water moves through carbon nanotubes at exceptionally high rates, yet the exact mechanism of transport inside nanotubes continues to be debated because of the limited number of experimental results. We have met the considerable technical challenge of unambiguously measuring the permeability of a single nanotube. Our measurements reveal large and radius-dependent surface slippage in carbon nanotubes (and not in their insulating counterpart, boron nitride nanotubes). This emphasizes that nanofluidics is the frontier at which the continuum picture of fluid mechanics meets the atomic nature of matter.


Alternatives to standard filtration

The human kidney is an incredible water filter. It filters 200 L of water per day, separating water and salt (that are recycled in other organs) and urea (that is eliminated). We explored and rationalized how it was possible to build a biomimetic kidney-on-a-chip for efficient water filtration. In fact, filtration in the kidney is performed in a very clever, very optimal geometry. If we could assemble cutting-edge microfluidic tools together, we could build a very efficient biomimetic filter.


Do flows organize growth patterns in biology?

(photo credit: Natalie Andrew) Physarum Polycephalum is a slime mold growing as a mostly planar network of veins encapsulating periodically pumped fluid flow with nutrients and genetic material. Together with the Biological Physics and Morphogenesis (BPM) group, we are interested in understanding the growth and pruning dynamics of this individual. Learning from this individual may help to identify patterns that may allow to build hypothesis for blood vasculature morphogenesis.