Self Assembly in Soft Matter Physics & Physical Oceanography

Structure, Kinetics and Material Science of Complex Fluids

Soft ("squishy") matter is an inevitable part of everyday life. Living cells (and we) are it, and so are numerous things we use and endure: paint, soap, milk, ice-cream, fog... The complex structures and dynamics that arise out of soft condensed matter are large and slow compared to the atomic scale. There is considerable overlap between the fields of soft condensed matter physics, physical chemistry and the biological sciences in different aspects: the underlying science, self assembly, the materials, as well as the techniques that can be used.

Research group photos 2006

We like to study real-space local structure and real-time dynamics in three dimensions via confocal microscopy, and at the same time use pulsed-gradient nuclear magnetic resonance to measure diffusion coefficients and transport properties precisely. Students in the lab will learn to use magnetic resonance (NMR: a technique used extensively in chemistry and medicine) and confocal microscopy (a technique used extensively in biology) in a novel and complementary way.

Materials of interest in soft condensed matter physics are "complex fluids": colloids, liquid crystals, micro-emulsions, surfactant mesophases. Soft materials respond sensitively to external electric, magnetic and surface forces. Controlling self assembly in soft matter enables the creation of novel materials that interact with external fields: photonic materials, electrorheological ("ER") fluids and liquid crystal elastomers.

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