Theoretical Soft Matter and Biophysics
The main research topic of the Institute is the theory of complex fluids and soft matter systems. Soft matter physics is an interdisciplinary research area encompassing statistical physics, materials science, chemistry, and biology.
Our systems of interest include polymer melts and liquid crystals, as well as colloidal suspensions. Recently the focus has shifted to more complex systems ranging from colloids in polymer solutions or liquid crystals to mixtures of surfactants and amphiphilic block copolymers. This brings the systems closer to applications in materials science or biology.
At "Theoretical Physics of Living Matter", a large variety of methods are applied. In fact, a combination of analytical and numerical methods is often required to successfully characterize the properties of these complex systems. In particular, simulation methods (Monte Carlo, molecular dynamics), computational hydrodynamics, field theory, perturbation theory, and exact solutions are employed. Since the building blocks of soft matter systems often contain a large number of molecules, "simplified" mesoscale modelling is typically required, which is then linked to the molecular architecture.
A characteristic feature of soft matter research is the fruitful interaction between theory and experiment. IBI-5 "Theoretical Physics of Living Matter" closely cooperates with the institutes for Neutron Scattering and Biological Matter (Prof. Förster, IBI-8) and Biomacromolecular Systems and Processes (Prof. Dhont, IBI-4) to successfully tackle many of the essential aspects of the systems investigated.