Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences
We develop and apply the methods of mathematical physics and the theory of stochastic processes to study phenomena in biophysics. Our main research focus is currently the non-equilibrium statistical mechanics of single molecules. In particular, we aim at a trajectory-based description of macromolecular conformation dynamics as well as of their spatial transport, binding, and reactions. In our work we employ a combination of rigorous analysis corroborated by computer simulations.
Kristian Blom and Aljaž Godec at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry successfully exploited the Ising model – which was originally used to describe ferromagnetism – to understand how the avidity of adhesion receptors and the strength of cellular adhesion can be regulated by mechanics.
Sufficiently small systems warm up faster than they cool down. Aljaz Godec and Allesio Lapolla have now mathematically proven this unforeseen asymmetry. They have shown that the counterplay of potential energy and entropy in the system, which warms up, is less of an obstacle on return to thermodynamic equilibrium.