Research project


Thematic area

Physical sciences and technologies of matter

Project area

Sistemi e materiali complessi, materia soffice, biofisica e reti (DFM.AD004)

Structure responsible for the research project

Institute of Nanotechnology (NANOTEC)

Project manager

Phone number: 0649913480


From a Physics and Engineering standpoint, swimming bacteria are a formidable example of self-propelled micro-machines. Together with their synthetic counterpart, self-propelled colloids, they represent the "living" atoms of active matter, an exciting branch of contemporary soft matter and statistical mechanics. Differently from synthetic colloids, however, each bacterial cell contains all the molecular machinery that is required to self-replicate, sense the environment, process information and compute responses. Breaking down these biological functions into basic genetic parts has been one of the greatest triumphs of molecular biology. Today, synthetic biologists are assembling these parts into new genetic programs and exploiting bacteria as computing micro-machines. Project SYGMA will employ the synthetic biology toolkit to provide the building blocks for a light controllable active matter having reliable, reconfigurable and interactively tunable dynamical properties. We will first engineer transmembrane photoreceptors to wire RGB external light signals to cellular physical responses like speed, tumbling, growth and death rates. These genetic parts will allow the modular design o

Start date of activity



Physics of biological systems, (Micro- and nano-) systems engineering, Structure and dynamics of disordered systems: soft matter

Last update: 08/12/2023