Soft Matter Physics

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Dry sand is only solid while you squeeze it; let go, and it runs between your fingers. Starch molecules behave the same way, so wet corn-starch is liquid, but jams solid if you try to stir it.

Physics & Astronomy

Liquids, colloids, polymers, foams, gels, membranes, biological materials and therefore life itself are just a handful of examples of soft matter.

With many internal degrees of freedom with weak interactions between the structural components, soft matter sensitive to the environment enabling functional materials to be created.

Soft matter can be found throughout industrial and technological applications. Whether it’s packaging, adhesives, detergents, cosmetics, medicines, fuels, rubber tyres, or paints, soft matter physics is central and essential to understanding, designing and optimising these products. 

Research highlight

2014 REF impact

Soft Matter Group helps position physics at Leeds in equal 4th place in the UK for research impact, in the 2014 REF awards.

REF impact case study ›

Transforming Cellulose Processing

Cellulose is the world’s most abundant organic polymer. It’s an inexhaustible source of raw material offering environmentally friendly, biocompatible products. Unfortunately processing of cellulose is either highly polluting or energy consuming. With today’s need for “greener” materials and more sustainable processing routes; new, innovative process strategies are urgently needed.
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Summary of PhD projects available in the Soft Matter Physics Group

Research within the Soft Matter Group at Leeds is primarily experimental with an equal focus on fundamental and applied aspects. We are interested in a wide range of different soft matter materials including liquid crystals, polymers and biopolymers, glasses, and colloids.

See the full project list ›