Jérémie Palacci

2014 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Jérémie Palacci

Current Position:
Assistant Professor of Physics

University of California, San Diego (Previously at New York University)

Condensed Matter Physics

Recognized for: Studies of light-activated, self-propelled colloids

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Active Colloids, Statistical Mechanics, Materials Science, Microfluidics

Jeremie Palacci


PhD, Soft Condensed Matter, Université de Lyon
MSc, Physics, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon
BS, Physics, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

One of the most fascinating aspects of Nature it the emergence of complex and collective phenomena in a variety of systems: bacteria aggregate, birds flock, and fish spontaneously form mesmerizing school. For a physicist, they have in common that they are comprised of  various representations of non-equilibrium matter. However, the organizing principles of such systems are largely unknown and constitute a new frontier of physics.     

Since the beginning of his research career, Jérémie Palacci has been interested in exploring this new frontier using synthetic micron-scale particles – one hundredth the width of a hair in size! – or “colloids”.

During his postdoctoral training in the groups of David Pine and Paul Chaikin (NYU, Center for Soft Matter Research), Jeremie devised, together with Stefano Sacanna, a novel kind of colloids that are activated with a flick of a switch of a blue light. With light on, the particles propel and collide, forming clusters. They can sense flows and migrate upstream, or dock cargos many times their size and deliver them to a predetermined location.  These active particles bring biological organization to the materials world and Jeremie’s research opens up new compartments in the soft-matter physicist’s toolbox and paves the way to creating and using advanced functional materials. 

Active colloids provide new building blocks for cutting-edge materials with untapped capabilities: self-healing materials which recover from damages, or can morph their color or shape to adapt their environment, like do chameleons. The possibilities are infinite and our imagination might, at this point, be the bottleneck!

Key Publications:

  1. J. Palacci, S. Sacanna, A. Vatchinsky, P.M. Chaikin, D.J. Pine. Photo Activated Colloidal Dockers for Cargo Transportation. JACS. 2013
  2. J. Palacci, S. Sacanna, A. Preska-Steinberg, D.J. Pine, P.M. Chaikin. Living Crystals of Light Activated Colloidal Surfers. Science. 2013
  3. J. Palacci, B. Abecassis, C. Cottin-Bizonne, C. Ybert, L. Bocquet. Colloidal Motility and Pattern Formation under Rectified Diffusiophoresis. Physical Review Letters. 2010
  4. J. Palacci, C. Cottin-Bizonne, C. Ybert, L. Bocquet. Sedimentation and Effective Temperature of Active Colloidal Suspensions. Physical Review Letters. 2010

Other Honors:

2010 Michelin Prize for “Outstanding PhD Thesis”, French Physical Society, SFP