Roberto Di Leonardo
Sapienza University of Rome
In 1676, using candle light and a small glass sphere as the lens, van Leeuwenhoek discovered the microscopic world of living microorganisms. Today, using lasers, spatial light modulators, digital cameras and computers, we study the statistical and fluid mechanics of microswimmers in ways that were unimaginable only 50 years ago. With light we can image swimming bacteria in 3D, apply controllable force fields or sculpt their 3D environment. In addition to shaping the physical world outside cells we can use light to control the internal state of genetically modified bacteria. I will review our recent work with light-bacteria interactions, going from some fundamental problems in the fluid and statistical mechanics of microswimmers to the use of bacteria as propellers for micro-machines or as a "living" paint controlled by light.