Polymers & soft condensed matter

Soft Matter is a sub-discipline of condensed matter and focusses upon chemical & biological matter that is easily deformed by thermal forces or fluctuations. These materials show their most interesting behaviour/properties at energy scales on the order of kT where classical (as opposed to quantum) physics dominate.  This group is interested in the physical chemistry of soft matter, as for example, the behavior of single molecule machines, such as rotaxanes, or the mobility of colloids near a liquid interface or membrane surface, or the properties of polymer brushes.  Our experimental tools are pico-Newton-scale force measurement devices, such as Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Optical Tweezers (OT), while our predictive efforts use theory and computational methods in statistical thermodynamics.




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  • Pinson MB, Sevick EM, & Williams DRM (2013).  Mobile rings on a polyrotaxane lead to a yield force. Macromolecules, 46, pp. 4191-4197.
  • Gao YX, Wang GM, Williams DRM, Williams SR, Evans DJ, & Sevick EM (2012). Non-equilibrium umbrella sampling applied to force spectroscopy of soft matter.  J. Chem. Phys., 136, 054902.
  • Wang GM, Prabhakar R, Gao YX & Sevick EM (2011). Micro-rheology near fluid interfaces. J. Opt 13, 044009.
  • Sevick EM & Williams DRM (2010). Piston-Rotaxanes as Molecular Shock Absorbers.  Langmuir, 26, pp. 5864-5868.
  • Wang GM, Prabhakar R, & Sevick EM (2009). Hydrodynamic mobility of an optically trapped particle near fluid-fluid interfaces”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 248303.
  • Sevick EM, Prabhakar R, Williams SR, and Searles DJ (2008). Fluctuation Theorems.  Ann. Rev. Phys. Chem. 59, pp. 603-633.
  • Carberry, DM, Reid, JC, Wang GM, Sevick EM, Searles DJ, & Evans DJ (2004). Fluctuations and Irreversibility: An Experimental Demonstration of a Second Law-like Theorem Using a Colloidal Particle Held in an Optical Trap.  Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, pp. 140601-140604.
  • Wang GM, Sevick EM, Mittag E, Searles DJ, & Evans DJ (2002). Experimental Demonstration of Violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, pp. 50601-50604.
  • Haupt BJ, Senden TJ, & Sevick EM (2002).  Experimental Evidence of the Rayleigh Instability in Single Polymer Chains. Langmuir 18, 2174-2182.
  • Haupt BJ, Ennis J, and Sevick EM (1999). The Detachment of a Polymer Chain from a Weakly-Adsorbing Surface Using an AFM Tip. Langmuir 15, pp3886-3892.

Updated:  23 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RSC/Page Contact:  Web Admin, RSC