lengthscales and timescales in soft matter

Lengthscales and timescales across soft matter. The glass transition is universal across these system classes. Link to ArXiV and review article.

How do the interactions between individual constituents give rise to macroscopic behaviour in materials? Such a question underlies much of statistical physics, and indeed strikingly similar phenomena occur across a vast range of lengthscales from molecules to mesoscopic colloids and even animals. We study collective phenomena across these lengthscales using real space analysis (microscopy or video imaging) experiments which are complemented by computer simulation.

We are particularly interested in long-standing challenges that elude understanding. For example, the glass transition (described as the deepest problem in solid state physics), nucleation (the “second-biggest discrepancy in physics”) and sudden failure of amorphous materials such as glasses and gels.

To better understand these phenomena, we have introduced nano-real space analysis, a new experimental technique which allows us to gaccelerate timeh by a factor of 1000 (so far), while our topological cluster classification is a novel method to gain insight into the detailed structure of amorphous materials.