Colloidal capsules are interesting from the point of view of both physics and application. They can be used for controlled material transport and targeted release, and they have shown tremendous potential for fabricating advanced materials through self-assembly. Recently, such capsules have also been able to propel in carrier fluid by methods including magnetic fields, thermal gradients and bubble propulsion mechanisms. Building on former research by the Experienced Researcher and the main supervisor, as well as new areas of expertise, this project will develop novel fabrication routes for microcapsules with and without functionalised shells (patchy capsules) and propel them over milimeter distances using external fields. The main objective of this action is to experimentally demonstrate propulsion of microcapsules via novel methods involving anisotropic electrodeformation and electrorotation. The experimental research will fill the missing gap in the field of propelling capsules, now mostly presented by computational and theoretical work. There are many examples of collective phenomena in nature, ranging from swarming bacteria colonies to flocking animals, and much attention has been devoted to understanding and imitating their collective properties and behaviour. The research project will give the first experimental realisation of collective capsule dynamics by propelling hundreds of electrorotating capsules at boundaries. Such a system has enormous potential for future technology and will be helpful in many aspects, for example, to lower human infertility, design microrobots for drug delivery, biodegradation of environmental pollutants and control of material properties. This proposal includes both the training of the candidate and a two-way transfer of knowledge with the host institution and partner organisations. The interdisciplinary aspect of the action is strong, involving a combination of soft-matter physics, medicine, engineering and applied sciences.
The capacity of future forests to support biodiversity and deliver ecosystem services will depend on reproductive capacities that keep pace with 21st century climate change. The European continent is warming and drying out fast, and similar changes are happening word wide. The decade-scale trends in biodiversity will be governed by tree fecundity?the capacity of trees to produce seed and to disperse it to the habitats where populations can survive in the future. From the boreal to the tropical forests, including in majority of European tree species, reproduction happens through synchronized, quasi-periodic, non-stationary variation in fruit production, termed masting or mast seeding. Despite the crucial role of mast seeding in plant regeneration and wider ecological processes, our understanding of this process is rudimentary. Poor understanding of the mechanisms that govern it are challenges for anticipating alternations in forest reproduction and function. Reliable predictive models are consequently not available, and the unpredictable recruitment of trees has become a key obstacle to understanding forest change. Recruitment, including reproduction and dispersal, is the most undeveloped demographic process in Earth system models. This work will transform our understanding of mechanisms governing trees reproduction and deliver tools for predicting forest reproduction trajectories under climate change. The main outcomes will be the first experimental description of how masting emerge at proximal level, and how this is conserved among species. This will be also the first explicit test of how variation in masting patterns matters for forest regeneration trajectories. Together with analysis of global reproductive patterns, our work will deliver a step-change in identifying species and regions of special conservation care.