CONDENSED MATTER THEORY

SOFT AND BIOLOGICAL MATTER

Overview


The research activities of our group are focused on various problems in the general area of soft condensed matter.

We aim to understand the physical and structural properties of both synthetic and biological soft matter, taking into account structural and entropic elasticity, electrostatic interactions, dispersion forces, hydrodynamics, and equilibrium and non-equilibrium fluctuations. These studies are performed using a variety of theoretical tools ranging from analytical tools to Brownian dynamics and Molecular Dynamics simulations.

Active Colloids


Interfacial "phoretic" effects - such as electrophoresis, thermophoresis, diffusiophoresis, etc. - can act as effective propulsion mechanisms at small scales. We have studied designs for a swimmer that take advantage of the gradient that is caused and maintained by asymmetric catalytic activities on its surface. Moreover, we have analysed the collective behaviour of nanoswimmers. more...

Hydrodynamics


Microorganisms swim in a low Reynolds number environment where viscous forces dominate. Hydrodynamic interactions in low Reynolds number environments influence the swimming behaviour of microorganisms and are important for synchronization and collective behaviour of flagella and cilia. We use simple hydrodynamic models to study complex behaviour in biological systems. more...

Chemotaxis


Bacterial and cellular chemotaxis acts as a central mechanism for the early formation of microcolonies. Organisms move in response to secreted chemicals and are thus able to form larger structures around these chemicals, which are often secreted by the organisms themselves. Using simple models we study both the collective chemotaxis and the underlying microscopic mechanisms. more...

Nanopores


Our research is aimed at understanding how the transport of water, ions and polymers affects the function of biological and technological membrane channels. Water and ion transport is essential for maintaining the salt balance and osmotic pressure in biological cells and the transmission of nerve impulses, whereas the translocation of a polymer through a pore is important in the context of biological processes such as the transport of RNA through a nuclear membrane pore and DNA injection by viruses. more...