Institut Charles Sadron Membre

Igor Kulic




Biophysics : DNA Packing, Transcription, Single Molecules, Molecular Motors and Intracellular Transport, Microtubule and Actin Conformational Polymorphism and Dynamics, Plant Motility

Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics : Brownian Ratchets, Transport of Active Particles, Hydrodynamics of Self-Propulsion

Physics of Biomimetic Materials and Actuators : DNA-based Machines, Polymer Actuators and Motors, Smart Programmable Materials




2009-present Charge de Recherche CNRS, ICS Strasbourg

2006-2008 Harvard University, Cambridge (USA), Postdoctoral Researcher in Applied Physics

2004-2006 University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (USA),Postdoctoral Researcher in Biophysics

2001-2004 University of Mainz / MPI for Polymer Research, Doctor Thesis (summa cum laude)

2000 - Dipl. Mathematics (summa cum laude) University of Stuttgart



Otto Hahn Medal, Max Planck Society (2004)

Outstanding Doctor Thesis Award, University of Mainz (2005)

Max Planck Society Fellowship, MPG (2007)

Prix Jeune Chercheur du Groupement Français des Polymères (Physique) (2012)




Igor M. Kulić is a Serbian born physicist and inventor, currently a CNRS researcher at ICS Strasbourg. His major research interests are at the interface of theoretical and experimental statistical mechanics, biophysics and active condensed matter.


His doctoral thesis explores problems of DNA protein complexes, liquid crystalline packing, the interplay of geometry and fluctuations on the elastic response of semiflexible filaments. During the thesis he started to experiment with ratchet plant motion and proposed a minimal single DNA motor called the twirling DNA ring. In this period his thinking and science was influenced by his collaboration and friendship with Helmut Schiessel and Rochish Thaokar.


During his post-doc stays at UPENN and Harvard University, he developed a model for bi-directional intracellular transport, termed hitchhiking, which involves active participation of microtubule movement in organelle dispersal throughout the cell.



Igor has investigated the conformational anomalies of microtubules and proposed a mechanism for long-range elastic interactions within their lattice. The model was generalized to include the effect of lattice defects and tubulin conformational switching. In this period he was influenced by his lifelong friend and closest collaborator , Hervé Mohrbach and the benevolent shielding by L Mahadevan and Phil Nelson.


Igor’s more recent research interests are in non-equilibrium self-organization of micro- and nano-structures, colloidal and molecular self- assembly as well creating and harnessing molecular and macroscopic motor devices. He has invented -the magnetic merry-go-round - a simple single-wire micro-device for the self-assembly of magnetic rings and helical filaments of tunable geometries. In a joint work with his father Miodrag, he has proposed and developed the concept of non-equilibrium “coherent Van der Waals self-assembly” in plasmonic and magnetic colloidal systems.


Igor has designed the concept of entanglement generating synthetic nano-machines (called "tanglotrons") whose prospects for novel active materials and artificial muscles are under intense experimental investigation.




Combining ideas from geometry, topology and active materials, Igor has invented and practically demonstrated the “material embedded wheel”. By inducing collective zero energy modes within a responsive material and driving them far from equilibrium Igor and colleagues have built the world’s first elastodynamic rotary motor consisting of only a single piece of elastic material. This surprising device, that he calls the fiberdrive is under active development and various ports from the initial thermoelastic drive principle are currently on their way.


Animotion and Fiberdrive





An engine out of one single piece of material.

Active Particles, Plant Cyborgs, Ratchets


Nature’s best ratchets. Aquarium full of herbibots.


Magnetic Merry-Go-Round

Using a current wire to make magnetic rings and helices.


Animated Knots



When the geometry is right and there is an external source of energy animotion is a generic effect. Ferromagnetic rings and trefoil knots on a magnetic stirrer undergoing twirling and slidering forms of animotion.

Movie credits : Lazar Kulić, 2017


Tanglotron Gels


A model tanglotron gel collapsing under molecular motor torque.

Movie credits : Oli Benzerara, 2016. 

Selected Works


[1] A. Baumann, A. Sánchez-Ferrer, L. Jacomine, P. Martinoty, V. Le Houerou, F. Ziebert & I. M. Kulić , Motorizing fibres with geometric zero-energy modes , Nature Materials, 17, 523 (2018)


[2] F. Weisser, O. Benzerara, A. Johner and I.M. Kulić, Topological energy storage of work generated by nanomotors, Soft Matter 11, 732 (2015) ; Q. Li, G. Fuks, E. Moulin, M. Maaloum, M. Rawiso, I.M. Kuli?, J.T. Foy and N. Giuseppone, Macroscopic contraction of a gel induced by the integratedmotion of light-driven molecular motors Nature Nanotechnology 10, 161 (2015)


[3] Ziebert, F., Mohrbach, H., & Kulić, I. M. Why Microtubules Run in Circles : Mechanical Hysteresis of the Tubulin Lattice. Phys. Rev. Lett., 114, (2015)


[4] Kulić, I. M., & Kulić, M. L. Self-Assembly of Colloidal Superstructures in Coherently Fluctuating Fields. Phys. Rev. Lett., 111, 198301. (2013).


[5] Mohrbach, H., Johner, A., & Kulić, I. M. Tubulin Bistability and Polymorphic Dynamics ofMicrotubules. Phys. Rev. Lett., 105, 268102. (2010).


[6] T. Sanchez, I.M. Kulić & Z. Dogić, Circularization, photo-mechanical switchingand supercoiling transition of actin filaments , Phys.Rev. Lett. 104, 098103 (2010)


[7] I.M.Kulić, M. Mani, H. Mohrbach, R. Thaokar & L. Mahadevan, Botanical Ratchets, Proc. Roy. Soc. B, 276, 2243 (2009)


[8] I.M.Kulić, A.E.X. Brown, H. Kim, C. Kural, B. Blehm, P.R. Selvin, P.C. Nelson & V.I. Gelfand, The role of microtubule movement inbidirectional organelle transport, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105,10011 (2008)


[9] I.M. Kulić, & P.C. Nelson, Hitchhiking through the cytoplasm, Europhys. Lett. 81, 18001


[10] H. Mohrbach & I.M. Kulić, Motor driven microtubule shape fluctuations - force fromwithin the lattice, Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 218102 (2007)


[11] I.M.Kulić, R. Thaokar & H. Schiessel, Twirling DNA rings - Swimming nanomotors ready for a kickstart, Europhys. Lett. 72, 527 (2005)


[12] I.M.Kulić & H. Schiessel, DNA spools under tension, Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 228101 (2004)


[13] I.M.Kulić & H. Schiessel, Nucleosomes go mobile through twist defects, Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 148103 (2003)


[14] I.M.Kulić, Shapes in Motion : Confotronics ,Tanglotronics , Animotion , habililtation

Links and Thoughts


"Make your mark ! If need be, even make it in the dark." , Moondog


Check out Gary Hesketh’s and Moondog’s beautiful, haunting art.


Hilarious : Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison (Epic Rap Battles of History)


Ruiz, P.A.S.; Ziebert, F.; Kulic, I.M. (2022), Physics of self-rolling viruses,Physical Review E,105(5) : link


Ziebert, F.; Kulic, I.M. (2021), How Influenza’s Spike Motor Works,Physical Review Letters,126(21) : link

Vagner, S.A.; Patlazhan, S.A.; Serra, C.A.; Funfschilling, D.; Kulichikhin, V.G. (2021), Dripping and jetting of semi-dilute polymer solutions co-flowing in co-axial capillaries,Physics Of Fluids,33(6) : link


Cuveillier, C.; Delaroche, J.; Seggio, M.; Gory-Faure, S.; Bosc, C.; Denarier, E.; Bacia, M.; Schoehn, G.; Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.; Andrieux, A.; Arnal, I.; Delphin, C. (2020), MAP6 is an intraluminal protein that induces neuronal microtubules to coil,Science Advances,6(14) : eaaz4344 link

Farago, J.; Charitat, T.; Bigot, A.; Schotter, R.; Kulic, I. (2020), Counterrotation of magnetic beads in spinning fields,Physical Review E,102(4) : link

Bazir, A.; Baumann, A.; Ziebert, F.; Kulic, I.M. (2020), Dynamics of fiberboids,Soft Matter,16(22) : 5210-5223 link


Bouzar, L.; Mueller, M.M.; Messina, R.; Noeding, B.; Koester, S.; Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.M. (2019), Helical Superstructure of Intermediate Filaments,Physical Review Letters,122(9) : link


Baumann, A.; Sanchez-Ferrer, A.; Jacomine, L.; Martinoty, P.; Le Houerou, V.; Ziebert, F.; Kulic, I.M. (2018), Motorizing fibres with geometric zero-energy modes,Nature Materials,17(6) : 523 link


Becu, L.; Basler, M.; Kulic, M.L.; Kulic, I.M. (2017), Resonant reshaping of colloidal clusters on a current carrying wire,European Physical Journal E,40(12) : link

Malkin, A.Y.; Semakov, A.V.; Skvortsov, I.Y.; Zatonskikh, P.; Kulichikhin, V.G.; Subbotin, A.V.; Semenov, A.N. (2017), Spinnability of Dilute Polymer Solutions,Macromolecules,50(20) : 8231-8244 link


Bouzar, L.; Muller, M.M.; Gosselin, P.; Kulic, I.M.; Mohrbach, H. (2016), Squeezed helical elastica,European Physical Journal E,39(11) : link

Gosselin, P.; Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.M.; Ziebert, F. (2016), On complex, curved trajectories in microtubule gliding,Physica D-Nonlinear Phenomena,318() : 105-111 link

Fierling, J.; Johner, A.; Kulic, I.M.; Mohrbach, H.; Mueller, M.M. (2016), How bio-filaments twist membranes,Soft Matter,12(26) : 5747-5757 link

Baschnagel, J.; Meyer, H.; Wittmer, J.; Kulic, I.; Mohrbach, H.; Ziebert, F.; Nam, G.-M.; Lee, N.-K.; Johner, A. (2016), Semiflexible Chains at Surfaces: Worm-Like Chains and beyond,Polymers,8(8) : link


Ziebert, F.; Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.M. (2015), A nonequilibrium power balance relation for analyzing dissipative filament dynamics,European Physical Journal E,38(12) : 1-8 link

Ziebert, F.; Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.M. (2015), Why Microtubules Run in Circles: Mechanical Hysteresis of the Tubulin Lattice,Physical Review Letters,114(14) : link

Li, Q.; Fuks, G.; Moulin, E.; Maaloum, M.; Rawiso, M.; Kulic, I.; Foy, J.T.; Giuseppone, N. (2015), Macroscopic contraction of a gel induced by the integrated motion of light-driven molecular motors,Nature Nanotechnology,10(2) : 161-165 link

Weysser, F.; Benzerara, O.; Johner, A.; Kulic, I.M. (2015), Topological energy storage of work generated by nanomotors,Soft Matter,11(4) : 732-740 link


Kulic, I.M.; Kulic, M.L. (2014), Theory of coherent van der Waals matter,Physical Review E,90(6) : link

Fierling, J.; Mueller, M.M.; Mohrbach, H.; Johner, A.; Kulic, I.M. (2014), Crunching biofilament rings,Epl,107(6) : link

Fierling, J.; Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.; Lee, N.-K.; Johner, A. (2014), Biofilaments as annealed semi-flexible copolymers,Epl,106(5) : link

Kahraman, O.; Mohrbach, H.; Mueller, M.M.; Kulic, I.M. (2014), Confotronic dynamics of tubular filaments,Soft Matter,10(16) : 2836-2847 link


Kulic, I.M.; Kulic, M.L. (2013), Self-Assembly of Colloidal Superstructures in Coherently Fluctuating Fields,Physical Review Letters,111(19) : link


Nam, G.-M.; Lee, N.-K.; Mohrbach, H.; Johner, A.; Kulic, I.M. (2012), Helices at interfaces,Epl,100(2) : link

Mohrbach, H.; Kulic, I.M. (2012), Solvable model for polymorphic dynamics of biofilaments,Physical Review E,85(3, 1) : link

Mohrbach, H.; Johner, A.; Kulic, I.M. (2012), Cooperative lattice dynamics and anomalous fluctuations of microtubules,European Biophysics Journal With Biophysics Letters,41(2) : 217-239 link


Mohrbach, H.; Johner, A.; Kulic, I.M. (2010), Tubulin Bistability and Polymorphic Dynamics of Microtubules,Physical Review Letters,105(26) : link

Sanchez, T.; Kulic, I.M.; Dogic, Z. (2010), Circularization, Photomechanical Switching, and a Supercoiling Transition of Actin Filaments,Physical Review Letters,104(9) : link