The statistical physics of active matter: From self-catalytic colloids to living cells

Étienne Fodor, M. Cristina Marchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


These lecture notes are designed to provide a brief introduction into the phenomenology of active matter and to present some of the analytical tools used to rationalize the emergent behavior of active systems. Such systems are made of interacting agents able to extract energy stored in the environment to produce sustained directed motion. The local conversion of energy into mechanical work drives the system far from equilibrium, yielding new dynamics and phases. The emerging phenomena can be classified depending on the symmetry of the active particles and on the type of microscopic interactions. We focus here on steric and aligning interactions, as well as interactions driven by shape changes. The models that we present are all inspired by experimental realizations of either synthetic, biomimetic or living systems. Based on minimal ingredients, they are meant to bring a simple and synthetic understanding of the complex phenomenology of active matter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-120
Number of pages15
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
StatePublished - Aug 15 2018


  • Collective directed motion
  • Flocks
  • Living cells
  • Phase separation
  • Rigidity transition
  • Self-propelled particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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