Natural creatures interact continuously with water whether as an indispensable source of sustenance or the ubiquitous medium surrounding them. Capillarity plays a dominant role in such interactions, especially for plants, fungi, arthropods, and microbes: water transport within plants, dispersal of fungal spores, water-repellency of arthropods, and the fate of bacteria and viruses in droplets are all governed by capillary interactions at the air-water interface. Moreover, thanks to their relevance to climate change (e.g. the circulation of water, oxygen and carbon by plants), environmental recycling (fungi), insect-mimicking soft robots, and airborne transmission of pathogens, the physics of capillarity in diverse biological systems is attracting ever-growing interest from the scientific community as well as health agencies and industry.
In addition to classical capillary problems, a new scientific branch considering elastic deformation of slender structures under capillary effects, so-called elastocapillarity, has blossomed recently, further entangling capillary physics with biology. For example, such elastocapillarity is key to understanding the mechanical role of flexible hairs on insects and plant leaves, water drinking mechanisms in small birds, shape-morphing of fungi, and water-walking, jumping and diving of aquatic insects. Even the elastic response of inherently porous biological tissues has begun to be considered, giving birth to a new scientific branch of poroelastocapillarity.
Capillary and elastocapillary problems in biology have continued to revitalize and widen the realm of classical mechanics. These exciting scientific endeavours are often cross-disciplinary, requiring the collaboration of materials science, surface chemistry, robotics, as well as mechanics and biology. Although this strongly reflects the scientific importance and practical relevance of the field, an integrative platform to gather, organize and fuse the up-to-date results from each discipline has been absent to date. Hence, it is time to provide such a platform through this symposium; Invited speakers will deliver comprehensive reviews on mechanobiology and present the most up-to-date theoretical and experimental studies. Additionally, regular participants will have the opportunity to showcase their thrilling new findings during poster sessions. We aim to bring together internationally renowned scientists from different fields to foster knowledge exchange and develop/strengthen collaborative networks. The participants will be able to obtain a global overview of the most significant interdisciplinary advances and identify the pathway for future research in this ever-evolving field.
Areas of the symposium include, but are not limited to: