10 Credits AUTUMN

Pre-requisites: PHY21005

Aims/Description: Soft matter includes materials with properties between those of solids and liquids, for example plastics, gels, soaps, foods, biological cells and tissues. The behaviour of these complex materials depends on elegant physical principles determining the interactions within and between molecules. Using these physical principles we will explore molecules essential to life, such as proteins and DNA, and materials key to technology, such as polymers.We will start by defining what is soft matter by considering states of matter and the relevant length, time and energy scales. Next we will describe the important intramolecular and intermolecular interactions. Statistical mechanics models will enable us to predict bulk properties from molecular parameters. We will introduce experimental measurements and imaging techniques that are used to investigate soft matter and biological systems. We will introduce polymers and key properties of polymers such as viscoelasticity. We will introduce essential biopolymers including DNA and proteins.  We will provide an introduction to systems of interest, for example polymer materials, colloids, liquid crystals or membranes and discuss their properties and assembly.

Staff Contact: MEARS MATTHEW
Teaching Methods: Lectures, Independent Study
Assessment: Formal Exam, Course work

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Physics and Astronomy):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK