Soft Matter Physics

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Nappies are full of polymers. They are made of polyethylene, use elastic made from natural rubber to keep them from leaking but most importantly they're packed with polyacrylic acid, a member of the acrylate family of polymers that absorb lots of moisture.

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 ›

Shear Banding in Polymer Solutions?

Do polymer solutions "shear band" or not? Peter Olmsted and James Adams have shown that current theories are consistent with interpretations of both shear banding (unstable flow) or stable flow. However, which results one finds depends on the rheometer used! The message is that one needs to be very careful when interpreting experiments on the non-linear rheology of entangled polymeric fluids!

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Discussion meeting on light scattering for soft matter – techniques and applications
4-5 September

This discussion meeting will focus on the development and status of the field of dynamic and static light scattering applied to a variety of materials and questions within soft matter. A particular emphasis will be placed on light scattering techniques developed for the investigation of turbid systems where multiple scattering becomes significant. The use of light scattering to study materials based on polymers, colloids, and liquid crystals, and many other soft composite systems will be covered and applications important to industry e.g. within the food, energy, agriculture and household care area will be discussed. The meeting aims at a broad audience from both academia and industry and is organised to facilitate discussions and sharing of knowledge and ideas.  

Find out more on the Event page ›

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 ›