Pathways to Complex Matter Far-Away-From Equilibrium: Developing Spatiotemporal Tools
From the Big Bang to the coming of humankind, every manifestation of nature has exhibited processes far-away-from equilibrium leading to increasingly complex structural orders from geological to atomic length and time scales. Examples include the evolution of galaxies, hurricanes, stars, planets; prebiotic reactions, cyclical reactions, photosynthesis, and life itself. The organizational spatiotemporal evolution in soft, hard, andbiological matter also follows the same path.
It begins from a far-from-equilibrium state and develops over time into organizations with length scales between atoms and small molecules on the one hand and mesoscopic matter on the other. Over the past century, almost all scientific effort has been to understand equilibrium structural order, primarily in the crystalline regime. However there is a host of non-equilibrium physical, chemical and biological orders with unique emergent properties. Examples include glassy metal alloys with unusual mechanical strength, nanomachines, emergent hidden correlations such as colossal magnetoresistance behavior, and mesoscale self-assembly of crystalline hybrid nanoparticles.
It is argued that progress in understanding higher order of complexity can only be made from a complete understanding of the spatiotemporal evolution of non-equilibrium processes. How does one measure the evolution of complex order? Can we control the evolution? During the past decade many new spatiotemporal experimental tools have become available, many of which are ‘table-top’, that can probe the electronic and chemical structure and properties over sub-atomic to micron length scales and over fs to ms temporal scales.
This experimental approach along with powerful computational modeling tools will usher a new era of realizing, understanding and controlling emergent properties in complex matter far-away-from equilibrium. In this light-hearted, cross-disciplinary talk, we will also provide a popular ‘good reads’ list for the holiday season.