The study of soft materials - such as complex fluids, liquid crystals, macromolecules, particulate suspensions, porous materials, foodstuffs and biological materials - is a rapidly growing area that encompasses both new scientific discoveries and diverse practical applications. Many of these materials are mesoscopic, having internal structures on length scales between atomic dimensions and bulk that determine their properties. There is a natural synergy with disordered hard materials, whether disorder is inherent at the atomic scale as in crystalline solids, glasses and complex minerals, or at larger scales as in assemblies of nanoparticles. The study of solid materials underlies much current and emerging technology involving optical, electronic and spintronic phenomena. This interdisciplinary thrust area brings together researchers from a wide range of disciplines who share an interest in unraveling the many scientific challenges associated with the complexity of these materials and exploring their imaginative and exciting uses.
Examples of ongoing research: Glasses, nanoparticles and spin glasses, polymer and biomaterials, mesoscopic materials, materials for nuclear waste immobilization,optical, electronic and spintronic properties of ionic and semiconducting crystals, complex minerals, protein structure, tissue and cellular structure, viral architectures, textiles
Participating Researchers: Bassim, Bieringer, Hawthorne, Kroeker, Page, Roshko, Scanlon, Schrechenbach, Southern, Vail, Whitmore, Williams