In introductory physics courses, we learn about an idealized frictionless world of rigid bodies and smooth surfaces. Yet the physics of everyday life is complex: soft, sticky, squishy and often far from equilibrium. Many materials, ranging from biological tissues to piles of sand evade traditional classifications as either liquid or solid. Further incorporation of such soft matter into modern engineering requires a deeper understanding of these materials. Soft matter physics explores the fundamental physical principles that underlie the complexity of such systems, and has opened up an exciting new class of questions with applications to industry, biology and materials science.
The Gerbode Lab focuses on two areas at the forefront of experimental soft matter physics: (i) colloids — where microscopic solid particles suspended in a fluid self-assemble into thermodynamic phases; and (ii) adaptive biomaterials — where soft microstructured biological tissues actuate complex motions. Visit our research website to learn more.