Physics of Soft and Biological Matter 1 WS 2013/2014

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Lecture (2 SWS) and Tutorials (every 2nd week)
Prof. Dr. Christian Holm and Prof. Dr. Clemens Bechinger (Lecture); Dr. Jens Smiatek and Stefan Kesselheim (Tutorials)
Course language
Location and Time
October 17th, 2013 - February 6th, 2014
Lecture: Thu, 14:00 - 15:30 (Seminar room ICP 1.079, Allmandring 3)
Tutorials: Every second week on Tuesday, 16:00-17:30 (Stefan Kesselheim) in Seminar room ICP 1.079, Allmandring 3 and Thursday, 08:00-09:30 (Jens Smiatek) in CIP pool 1.033, ICP, Allmandring 3
B. Sc. 5. Semester or Master


The lecture intends to give an overview about the physics behind soft and biological matter which has been established as a novel interdisciplinary research field over the last decades. Soft matter typically includes easily deformable objects like colloids, polymers/polyelectrolytes, membranes, liquid crystals as well as vesicles and micelles. Most soft matter effects are driven by electrostatic, van-der-Waals, solute-solvent as well as entropic interactions. Typical phenomena include order-disorder phase transitions or aggregation behavior. The lecture will focus on the physical principles behind the observed effects. In addition, fundamental principles and theories like the DLVO- and the Poisson-Boltzmann theory will be introduced. The interdisciplinary character of this research field is reflected by the presentation of experimental and theoretical work in addition to numerical simulation results.

Recommended literature

  • Pierre Gilles de Gennes: Soft matter, Rev. Mod. Phys. 64, 645 (1992)
  • Richard A. L. Jones: Soft Condensed Matter, Oxford University Press (2002)
  • D. Fennell Evans and Hakan Wennerström: The Colloidal Domain - Where Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Technology Meet, Wiley-VCH (1999)
  • Robert J. Hunter: Foundations of Colloid Science, Oxford University Press (2002)
  • Gert R. Strobl: The Physics of Polymers: Concepts for Understanding Their Structures and Behavior, Springer (2007)
  • Jean-Pierre Hansen and Ian R. McDonald: Theory of Simple Liquids, Academic Press (2006)
  • Mohamed Daoud and Claudine E. Williams (Eds.): Soft Matter Physics, Springer (1999)
  • Pierre Gilles de Gennes: Scaling Concepts in Polymer Physics, Cornell University Press (1979)
  • Ian W. Hamley: Introduction to Soft Matter, J. Wiley (2000).
  • Maurice Kleman and Oleg G. Laverntovich: Soft Matter Physics: An Introduction, Springer (2003)
  • David Nelson, Steven Weinberg and Tsvi Piran: Statistical Mechanics of Membranes and Surfaces, World Scientific Publishing (2004)
  • Michael Rubinstein and Ralph H. Colby: Polymer Physics, Oxford University Press (2003)

Course Material

Date Subject Lecturer Ressources
17.10.2013 Motivation and historical overview Bechinger application_pdf.pngLecture Notes (181 KB)Info circle.png and Slides
24.10.2013 Many-particle systems: description of structural properties Holm application_pdf.pngLecture Notes (1.19 MB)Info circle.png
31.10.2013 Pair interactions between dispersed particles Bechinger
07.11.2013 Phase transitions: general introduction Holm
14.11.2013 Poisson-Boltzmann theory Holm
21.11.2013 Introduction to polymer physics Holm
28.11.2013 Polyelectrolytes Holm
05.12.2013 Experimental techniques Bechinger
12.12.2013 Phase transitions in 2D systems Bechinger, Holm
19.12.2013 Xmas lecture: Soft matter food science Bechinger, Holm
09.01.2014 Depletion interactions I Bechinger
16.01.2014 Depletion interactions II Holm
23.01.2014 tba. Bechinger
30.01.2014 Biological soft matter Holm
06.02.2014 Lab tour Bechinger

Work sheets