Physics 4xx/8xx
Mechanics of the Cell

PHYS4xx/8xx - Biophysics: Mechanics of the Cell is an introductory course on the mechanical properties of biological cells and may be taken by senior undergraduates or graduate students interested in soft condensed matter or biophysics. The support material for the course consists of the 600-page textbook Mechanics of the Cell and a set of on-line lecture notes. The textbook is structured so that readers can follow the application of mechanics to biological cells with minimal reference to the mathematical proofs behind the formalism. A related set of lectures on statistical mechanics can be found elsewhere in this website, under PHYS445 - Statistical Mechanics.

The lectures are stored in the form of PDF files and can be read by Adobe Acrobat Reader (click to download a free copy from Adobe).

Lecture notes to accompany PHYS4xx/8xx

Introduction and review
Lecture 1 - Cell sizes, shapes and structures
Lecture 2 - Molecular building blocks
Lecture 3 - DNA - composition and structure
Lecture 4 - Soft materials and the Boltzmann factor
Lecture 5 - Forces and movement in a viscous environment

Polymers and proteins
Lecture 1 - Flexible filaments
Lecture 2 - Sizes of polymer chains
Lecture 3 - Chain elasticity
Lecture 4 - Bending resistance of biopolymers
Lecture 5 - Torsion, twist and writhe
Lecture 6 - Models for protein folding

Networks in two and three dimensions
Lecture 1 - Soft networks and their deformation
Lecture 2 - Elastic moduli in 2D
Lecture 3 - Properties of two-dimensional networks
Lecture 4 - Elasticity in three dimensions
Lecture 5 - Three dimensional networks in the cell
Lecture 6 - Network percolation and failure

Lecture 1 - Composition and self-assembly of biomembranes
Lecture 2 - Bilayer compression and bending resistance
Lecture 3 - Mechanical instability and failure
Lecture 4 - Membrane bending and persistence length
Lecture 5 - Charged plate in an electrolyte
Lecture 6 - van der Waals and electrostatic interactions
Lecture 7 - The action potential in nerves
Lecture 8 - Model for signal propagation

The Whole Cell
Lecture 1 - Energetics of the bilayer
Lecture 2 - Vesicles and the human erythrocyte
Lecture 3 - Movement in the cell
Lecture 4 - Forces and torques
Lecture 5 - Polymerization of actin and tubulin
Lecture 6 - Molecular motors

Control and organization
Lecture 1 - Cell division
Lecture 2 - Rate equations: switches and stability
Lecture 3 - Replicating the blueprint
Lecture 4 - Molecular basis of regulation

Supplementary notes
Supplement 1 - Chemical bonding