Reports, Workshops & Journals on Soft Matter


Representative Journals and Websites



  • Faculty Workshop on UofL Soft Matter Research Initiative (10/9/2014)
    Soft Matter Research encompasses intermolecular forces, self assembly, wetting behavior, polymeric liquids and subcellular biophysics and is of growing emphasis across the US. Faculty did learn more about soft matter research at UofL and participated in this workshop sponsored by ERINC.

Additional information on Soft Matter and the workshop agenda:   The workshop was on developing a shared vision and focus on Soft Matter research.  We have several faculty who can be classified as applied soft matter scientists, but mostly think of themselves as being microfluidics, particle nanomanipulation, nanoparticle materials scientists, etc. We could enhance our research by finding ways to link our applied research to more fundamental investigations of materials and molecular scale interactions in liquids and polymers. The purpose of this workshop was to work to identify important research directions, themes and hiring priorities.

  • Soft Matter Day at the 80th Annual Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (SESAPS)  in Bowling Green, KY, Nov 22, 2013.  SESAPS devoted the day to a special set of sessions on Topics in Soft Matter.  We invited a world-class set of researchers who study fluids, polymers and cellular biomechanics.  A few of the 16 invited speakers included Michael Rubinstein (UNC), B. Hoffman (Duke), Y. Melnichenko (ORNL), Hai Yao (Clemson), Eric Weeks (Emory), D. T. Haynie (U. South Florida) and John Walz (U. Kentucky). The organizers of these sessions Profs. R. W. Cohn (U. Louisville) and M. Guthold (Wake Forest) felt that this meeting had a significant impact on shaping the direction of soft matter research in our region.

Report: “Soft matter is a subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical states that are easily deformed by thermal stresses or thermal fluctuations. They include liquids, colloids, polymers, foams, gels, granular materials, and a number of biological materials. These materials share an important common feature in that predominant physical behaviors occur at an energy scale comparable with room temperature thermal energy. At these temperatures, quantum aspects are generally unimportant. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who has been called the “founding father of soft matter,” received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1991 for discovering that the order parameter from simple thermodynamic systems can be applied to the more complex cases found in soft matter, in particular, to the behaviors of liquid crystals and polymers.” {from Wikipedia}

The two sessions were Soft Matter, Complex Fluids and Polymers, and Biophysics: Biomechanics and Cellular Mechanics. There were 15 invited talks devoted to reviewing the state of Soft Matter Research in the Southeast Section (from Virginia to Puerto Rico and from Florida to Louisiana.) There were a number of exciting topics covered including, microrheology with non-brownian motion of nanoparticles in complex fluids, spontaneous alignment of liquid crystals in toroidal droplets, FRET-based tension sensors spliced into protein backbones, gecko foot inspired reversible adhesives, and nanoparticles and their depletion forces used to stabilize otherwise unstable colloidal suspensions (presented by Dean John Walz, UK).

Perhaps the most broadly appealing talk (which has even been presented in Highlights Magazine, for kids K-5th grade) was Prof. David Hu’s talk on soft matter inspired biology research on fire ant rafts. Prof. Hu has measured and quantified how hydrophilic ants can build non-wetting hydrophobic rafts out of their bodies to avoid drowning during flooding. They also can build towers that enable them to scale vertical non-stick surfaces. The towers are exponentially tapered which ensures that the stresses are constant at all depths.

The session also included several discussion of upcoming events in soft matter including the first International Soft Matter Conference in the US is planned for 2015 in Boston. The Research Triangle Schools have been for the last 4 years had an annual soft matter conference. There were sidebar discussions about trying to expand the meeting to cover the Southeast. Also, it was mentioned that APS is currently discussing stating GSOFT, an interest group in soft matter. There is also some opposition to the new group from 7 other APS interest groups that cover various aspects of condensed soft matter. Other important news includes, is that in 2011 the Research Triangle Schools were awarded a Materials Research Center (MRSEC) in Soft Matter from the National Science Foundation. The MRSEC PI, Gabriel Lopez, Duke University also presented the following talk at the meeting: NSF Research triangle MRSEC: Opportunities for Industrial Collaboration. In all, the meeting proved timely for broadening the awareness of Southeast about the field and its upcoming meetings.

The Soft Matter Day abstracts are posted here:
Session EC: Soft Matter, Complex Fluids and Polymers in the Southeast, Biophysics: Biomechanics and Cellular Mechanics
Session GB: Cellular Mechanics and Biomechanics