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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory


After studying physics at the Univ. of Konstanz (Germany) I received my PhD degree from the Weizmann Institute, Israel, in Soft Matter Physics. Following postdoctoral research at the Univ. of Montpellier and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble (France), I joined the University of Amsterdam as Assistant Professor, where I started research on DNA-driven self-assembly of colloids, DNA hydrogels and the self-assembly of various other systems using various microscopy and rheology methods. My group continues this work in Cambridge.


My group works on colloid physics, self-assembling systems, photonics and out-of-equilibrium systems such as thermophoretic phenomena. In particular, we use DNA functionalized colloids to design porous gels for applications in photonics and new battery materials, but also for the study of transport in confinement. Further, we study the fundamental aspects of how to relate the macroscopic viscoelastic properties of DNA-hydrogels to the underlying molecular structure of the DNA building-blocks (DNA nano-stars). Using the versatility of DNA we use the gained information to design new building blocks allowing us to build materials with completely new mechanical properties  Our interdisciplinary research combines experimental physics and physical chemistry (microscopy, (micro)rheology, x-ray scattering, amongst others)  as well as simulations (using oxDNA, LAMMPS, and goose-grained models developed in the group).

Based on our DNA-work we recently showed that we can exploit the multivalency of short DNA-strands attached to a surface to develop much higher sensitivity for detecting bacterial and viral DNA and possibly RNA strands (T. Curk et al. PNAS (2020) and news report This may lead to the development of faster and more accurate diagnostic tools. 



Key publications: 

T. Curk, C. A. Brackley, J.D. Farrell, Z. Xing, D. Joshi, S. Direito, U. Bren, S. Angioletti-Uberti, J. Dobnikar, E. Eiser, D. Frenkel, R.J. Allen ‘Computational design of probes to detect bacterial genomes by multivalent binding.’ PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1918274117 (2020)

Z. Xing, A.Caciagli, T. Cao, I. Stoev, M. Zupkauskas, T. O'Neill, T. Wenzel, R. Lamboll, D. Liu, E. Eiser “Microrheology of DNA-Hydrogels” PNAS 115, 8137; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1722206115 (2018)

J. Burrelbach, D. Frenkel, I. Pagonabarraga & E. Eiser “A Unified Description of Colloidal Thermophoresis”, Eur. Phys. J. E 41: 7, DOI 10.1140/epje/i2018-11610-3 (2018)

Y. Lan, A. Caciagli, G. Guidetti, Z. Yu, J. Liu, V. E. Johansen, M. Kamp, C. Abell, S. Vignolini, O. A. Scherman & E. Eiser “Unprecedented stability of ‘raspberry’ colloids”, Nature Communications 9, 3614; DOI : 10.1038/s41467-018-05560-3 NCOMMS-18-04675-T (2018)

 L. Di Michele, F. Varrato, J. Kotar, S.H. Nathan, G. Foffi, E. Eiser, ‘Multistep kinetic self-assembly of DNA-coated colloids’, Nature Communications4, 2007, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3007 (2013)

A. Kumachev, J. Greener, E. Tumarkin, E. Eiser, and E. Kumacheva, “High throughput generation of hydrogel beads with varying elasticity enabling cell differentiation” BioMaterials,  32, 1477 (2011)


Complete List of  Publications

Professor in Soft Matter Physics
Fellow of Sidney Sussex College
Prof. Erika  Eiser

Contact Details

Email address: 
Optoelectronics Group,
Cavendish Laboratory,
University of Cambridge,
JJ Thomson Avenue,
+44 (0)1223 337263


Person keywords: 
Theoretical and Computational Physics
optical trapping
Biological Physics
Soft Condensed Matter