I am Maître de Conférences within the Gulliver lab @ ESPCI. Before coming to ESPCI in 2016 I did postdocs in the Living Matter Lab @ Rockefeller University (2014-2016) and in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences @ Harvard University (2010-2014). Prior to that I did my PhD in Instituut Lorentz @ Leiden University (2006-2010) and undergraduate studies in Theoretical physics at Faculty of Physics, University of  Belgrade (2001-2006).


My main interest is to unravel the design principles for building and programming complex materials. The well-established and widely used approach to materials design uses strong non-specific interactions between nondiscriminatory building blocks to make the material. Such a design makes the material robust, but the disadvantage is its single or narrow function, inability to change and reuse. Functionalities we expect from future advanced materials are more like those that already exist in biological systems such as the ability to adapt, replicate, ability to learn and evolve. These biological materials are highly functional, and this comes from highly specific interactions on a microscopic level that are transferred to macroscopic behavior through coupled reactions, feedback mechanisms and hierarchical information processing. A biology inspired design is a powerful paradigm for synthesizing advanced, complex materials using the bottom-up design of building blocks with precisely programmed interactions.

(auto-)catalytic cycles

The ability to self-replicate and to perform complex
and coordinated reactions that enable transformations impossible to realize
if a single structure acted alone are some of the fundamental properties of living matter. In artificial systems this can be mimicked by utilizing building blocks with specific interactions, controlled valence and interaction lifetime.

Schemes of catalytic and self-replication cycles involving small structures made of spheres with specific interactions , controlled valence and interaction lifetime.


One of the main characteristics of biological matter is that it spontaneously assembles into highly functional structures with high yield. A way to mimic this in artificial systems is to make every building block be unique, i.e., make favorable interactions between a building block and its nearest neighbors only.

Simulations of yield as a function of temperature for 4 different structures made of spheres with specific short-ranged interactions. Each particle within a structure is unique.


Granular-like matter consists of building blocks large enough that the temperature does not play any role in the dynamics of the system. In general the presence of disorder in materials can lead to fundamental changes in their mechanical, thermodynamic, static and dynamic properties.

Vibrational modes of different system: (left) Quasi-localized low energy mode of a 2D packing of frictionless discs; (middle) Extended low-energy mode of a 3D packing of frictionless oblate ellipsoids; (right) Low energy mode of a 2D bubble cloud.



This list also appears on my Google Scholar page.

N. C. Keim, J Paulsen, Z. Zeravcic, S. Sastry and S. R. Nagel,  Memory Formation in Matter, arXiv:1810.08587

Z. Zeravcic, V. N. Manoharan and M. P. Brenner,  Colloquium: Towards Living Matter with Colloidal Particles, RMP 89 (3) 031001 (2017)
 Z. Zeravcic,   How Specific Interactions Drive the Complex Organization of Building Blocks, From Automated to Autonomous Assembly, edt. Skylar Tibbits, Architectural Design 87 (4) (2017)
 Z. Zeravcic and M. P. Brenner, Spontaneous Emergence of Catalytic Cycles with Colloidal Spheres, PNAS 114 (17) (2017)
 H. Tanaka, Z. Zeravcic and M. P. Brenner, Mutation at Expanding Front of Self-Replicating Colloidal Clusters,   PRL 117 (23) (2016)
 A. Murugan*, Z. Zeravcic*, M. P. Brenner and S.  Leibler, Multifarious Assembly Mixtures: Systems Allowing Retrieval of Diverse Stored Structures,   PNAS 112 (1) (2015) (*authors have contributed equally)
 Z. Zeravcic, V. N. Manoharan and M. P. Brenner, Size limits of self-assembled colloidal structures made using specific interactions, PNAS 111 (45) (2014)
 M. S. van Deen, J. Simon, Z. Zeravcic, S. Dagois-Bohy, B. P. Tighe and M. van Hecke, Contact Changes near Jamming, PRE(R) 90 (2014)
 Z. Zeravcic and M. P. Brenner, Self-Replicating Colloidal Clusters, PNAS 111 (5), pp 1748-1753 (2014)
 L. Zhang, G. Feng, Z. Zeravcic, T. Brugarolas, A. J. Liu, and D. Lee, Using Shape Anisotropy to Toughen Disordered Nanoparticle Assemblies, ACS Nano  7 (2013)
 Z. Zeravcic, W. van Saarloos and D. Lohse, Collective oscillations in bubble clouds,   JFM   680, pp 114-149 (2011).
 Z. Zeravcic, Vibrations in materials with granularity, PhD Thesis, Leiden University (2010)
 W. Ellenbroek, Z. Zeravcic, M. van Hecke and W. van Saarloos, Non-affine Response: Jammed Packings versus Spring Networks, EPL  87, 34004 (2009)
 Z. Zeravcic, N. Xu, A. J. Liu, S. R. Nagel and W. van Saarloos, Excitations of Ellipsoid Packings near Jamming, EPL  87, 26001 (2009)
 Z. Zeravcic, W. van Saarloos and D. R. Nelson, Localization Behavior of Vibrational Modes in Granular Packings,   EPL  83, 44001 (2008).


Gulliver Lab

ESPCI Paris PSL Research University

10 Rue Vauquelin

Paris, 75231


zorana dot zeravcic et espci dot fr