Erzberger group
Theory of cellular and multicellular organization

Literature for the seminars on nonequilibrium statistical physics

Here is a list of suggested publications for the seminars on nonequilibrium statistical physics.

The large deviation approach to statistical mechanics

Physics Reports 478 by H. Touchette (2002), pp. 1–69.

The “best-ever” introduction into the theory of large deviations for physicists. Because this review paper is quite long, for a seminar one should choose just a few sections of it.

Stochastic problems in Physics and Astronomy

Reviews of Modern Physics 15(1) by S. Chandrasekhar (1943), pp. 1–89.

A classic text on foundations of statistical physics that retains its relevance since almost eighty years! Because this review paper is quite long, for a seminar one should choose just one chapter.

Active phase separation by turning towards regions of higher density

Nature Physics by Zhang et al. (2021).

Thanks to the effect of non-reciprocal torques, self-propelled particles tend to crowd in high-density but still highly dynamic clusters. Quite notably, orientational interactions as torques can produce phases of matter without internal orientational order.

Active wetting of epithelial tissues

Nature Physics 15 by Pérez-González et al. (2019), pp. pages 79–88.

Tissue spreading, being during morphogenesis or tumour growth, can be understood as the wetting process of an active polar fluid: say hello to active wetting! Besides accounting for the observed phenomenology, this framework allows the quantification of several characteristics of the tissue.

Full counting statistics of topological defects after crossing a phase transition

Physical Review Letters 124 by Gómez-Ruiz et al. (2020), p. 240602.

Topological defects form when a system is thrown out of equilibrium as it cools from a disordered phase into an ordered one, inducing local pockets of order to grow and come together. The statistical properties of these defects are relevant for exploring non-equilibrium phenomena in systems as varied as ultra-cold atoms, magnets, liquid crystals, and the early Universe.

A density-independent rigidity transition in biological tissues

Nature Physics 11 by Bi, Lopez, Schwarz et al. (2015), pp. 1074–1079.

Motility-Driven Glass and Jamming Transitions in Biological Tissues

Physical Review X Bi, Yang, Marchetti, and Manning (2016), p. 021011.

Active matter consists of energy consuming (and thus out-of-equilibrium) constituents, which can lead to very unique collective phenomena and global material properties. The two theoretical papers proposed above investigate confluent cell monolayers to determine how the mechanical response of a tissue depends on single-cell properties, such as adhesion and cortical tension. They find a new type of rigidity transition, which is not controlled by density, but instead driven by a preferred cellular shape measured by a dimensionless target shape index.

Equalities and Inequalities: Irreversibility and the Second Law of Thermodynamics at the Nanoscale

Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics 2 by C. Jarzynski (2011), pp. 329–351.

The laws of thermodynamics are originally derived for macroscopic systems. This review introduces the application of thermodynamic principles on small scale system, to which degree small systems “defy” the 2nd law of thermodynamics and relations between the statistics of equilibrium and non-equilibrium processes.

Pattern Formation in Active Fluids

Physical Review Letters 106 by J.S. Bois, F. Jülicher, and S.W. Grill (2011), p. 028103.

This paper describes an interesting application of a continuum field theory for out-of-equilibrium processes, specifically in patterning. Following Turing’s idea on patterning, we know that diffusion and reactions between different chemical species can give rise to patterns on surfaces. But what would happen if these species are responsible for producing space- and time-dependent stresses on that surface?

Probing the Limits to Positional Information

Cell 130(1) by T. Gregor et al. (2007), pp. 153–164.

How individual cells of a developing embryo know where they are and what they shall do?

Positional information, in bits

PNAS 110(41) by J. Dubuis et al. (2013), pp. 16301–16308.

How can one measure the information that individual cells of a developing embryo have about their relative positions? These questions can be addressed using the modern framework of information theory!

State-dependent diffusion: Thermodynamic consistency and its path integral formulation

Physical Review E 76 by A.W.C. Lau and T.C. Lubensky (2007), pp. 011123.

How should the Langevin equation look like when the diffusion coefficient varies in space?

Reciprocal Relations in Irreversible Processes. I.

Physical Review 37 by L. Onsager (1931), p. 405.

Reciprocal Relations in Irreversible Processes. II.

Physical Review 38 by L. Onsager (1931), p. 2265.

Onsager’s seminal papers on the symmetries of the reciprocal relations describing couplings like the Peltier and Soret effect.

Motility-Induced Phase Separation

Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics 6 M.E. Cates and J. Tailleur (2015), pp.219–244.

A review of motility-induced phase separation in active matter.

Topology and dynamics of active nematic vesicles

Science 345(6201) F.C. Keber et al. (2014), pp. 1135–1139.

An experimental and theoretical exploration of the feedback between vesicle shape and topological defect dynamics of active nematic liquid crystals inside vesicles.

Topological turbulence in the membrane of a living cell

Nature Physics 16 T.H. Tan et al. (2020), pp. 657–662.

Active turbulence on the membrane of starfish egg cells.

Collective Motion of Humans in Mosh and Circle Pits at Heavy Metal Concerts

Physical Review Letters 110 J.L. Silverberg et al. (2013), p. 228701.

The non-equilibrium physics of mosh pits.

Self-organized shape dynamics of active surfaces

PNAS 116(1) A. Mietke et al. (2018), pp. 29-34

Surfaces in biology are often shaped through active stresses arising from mechanochemical interactions. Here, an approach is developed to model the dynamics of shape formation in such 2D active materials.

Active Viscoelasticity of Odd Materials

Physical Review Letters 126 D. Banerjee et al. (2021), p. 138001.

Biological materials are primary examples of active viscoelastic materials, many of which are ‘odd’ (having asymmetrical viscous and/or elastic tensors). Here, a theory for the dynamics of these materials is described.

Oscillators that sync and swarm

Nature Communications 8 K.P. O’Keeffe et al. (2017), p. 1504.

This paper combines two forms of self-organization: synchronization of coupled oscillators, and collective motion. It has a nice mix of numerical and analytical approaches, and of ideas from statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics.