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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Length scales
Length scales in complex fluids

Soap films, or protein and polymer layers, control familiar and important processes like foam drainage and emulsion stability. These in turn have wide importance, affecting the texture and shelf life of foods and enabling oil recovery from reservoirs. At the root of these challenges are fundamental physical problems related to the special nature of confinement to two dimensions: flow on a plane, and nonequilibrium liquid to solid transitions (glass transitions) as a function of density or temperature, are very different from their 3D counterparts.


Images of Giant Unilamellar Vesicles, visualized by fluorescence microscopy.

The group is interested in the following broad projects:

  • Surface rheology: colloid films, mixed colloid/surfactant systems, glass transition, Jamming and granular systems in 2D.
  • Biological filaments and filament gels. Together with the membrane, these are the fundamental structural units in biological cells. The Mechanical properties of these systems are very interesting and are ideally studied with Optical Tweezers.
  • Model and real biological membranes. There are many remaining puzzles surrounding these systems: viscosity, bending, shear, compression, coupling to bulk deformation. They can be studied by combining experiments on surface rheology together with optical tweezers for bulk deformation.