Introduction to Soft Condensed Matter Physics Course Phys 4810 / 7810, Spring 2021
Course Phys 4810 / 7810, Spring 2021
Prof. Ivan I. Smalyukh, Instructor
Welcome to the Course Phys 4810 / 7810 "Intro to Physics of Soft Matter"
"Introduction to Soft Condensed Matter Physics" is a course about the science of liquid crystals, polymers, biological membranes, biopolymers, block copolymers, molecular monolayers, colloids, nanoparicle suspensions, emulsions, foams, gels, elastomers, and other soft materials. The course is intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Soft materials are attractive not only because of the richness of observed physics phenomena but also because of the wealth of potential technological applications and because of their significance for the fields of biology, biotechnology, and medicine. These materials combine properties of crystalline solids and ordinary liquids in unexpected ways, often possessing fluidity along with orientational order and varying degrees of positional order. The constituent molecules (or particles and other building blocks) of soft matter interact via many different types of interactions, ranging from van der Waals interactions, to screened electrostatic and steric interactions, and to specific chemical binding. These relatively fragile forms of matter easily respond to mechanical stresses, electric and magnetic fields, temperature variations, presence of ions, optical fields of focused laser beams, etc. Often having birefringence, optical activity, and self-organized structures with periodicity in the nanometer and micrometer ranges, these materials can be used to deflect laser beams in telecommunications and to visualize information in displays. At the same time, electric and magnetic fields, temperature changes, and light (in a form of focused laser beams) can be used to control these materials by shaping patterns of molecular orientations, manipulation of colloidal particles, defects, etc.
Our goal in this course is to give students a working knowledge of ideas they will apply daily as the move on to Soft Matter research. For students who do not intend to continue in Soft Matter research, this course shows how our world works on a microscopic scale. Course is geared toward students interested in conducting research in soft condensed matter. In the course, hands-on experience will be widely used to promote interest & understanding of the material.