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Physical Sciences and Engineering

Soft Matter and Biomolecular Materials

The group focuses on two research areas: active matter and polymer science. A diverse array of interactions and out-of-equilibrium dynamics are deployed to develop synthetic materials and dynamic architectures inspired by biological self-assembly.

Our focus areas include polymer synthesis and dynamics, charged systems, active liquid crystals, and out-of-equilibrium particle assemblies. Main activities in Soft Matter and Biomolecular Materials group at MSD revolve around four themes:

Theory and Computational Modeling. The research uses molecular simulations to investigate the fundamental properties of materials at a molecular level and uses molecular-thermodynamic models and statistical mechanical principles to predict their macroscopic behavior.

Precision Synthesis and Characterization. We utilize a wide array of microscopy, spectroscopy and scattering techniques to understand the assembly of complex macromolecules with particular attention to charged polymers including multivalent interactions, the phase behavior of complex coacervates, polymer brushes and micelles.

Precision Assembly and Characterization. We use top-down nanofabrication techniques to direct the self-assembly from the bottom up, providing the group with nanoscale control over the morphology of soft matter, unlocking new material properties, functionalities and applications.

Dynamics of Active Self-Assembled Materials. The program tackles the fundamental aspects of out-of-equilibrium dynamics and self-organization of bio-inspired materials. It  synergistically integrates experiment and simulations, and aims to develop a fundamental understanding and control of out-of-equilibrium self-assembly and microscopic transport in synthetic bio-inspired systems. We investigate the structure and dynamics of active (i.e. actively consuming energy from the environment) self-assembled materials, such as colloids energized by external fields and active liquid crystals, for the purpose of control, prediction, and design of novel bio-inspired materials.  Active matter will potentially enable structures and functionalities, such as self-healing, shape shifting, regulated transport in responsive to external stimuli that are not available at equilibrium and currently exhibited only by biological systems.