header photo

Soft Matter Physics Group

School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham

Research and Expertise

Our research encompasses all aspects of soft surfaces and interfaces. This includes studies of thin films, droplets, bubbles and colloidal systems. We have a good mix of pure and applied physics projects including studies of pattern formation in thin films, adhesion, film failure, droplet and film vibration, fluidic levitation, fluid-fluid interfaces, retrieval of fingerprints from complex surfaces and contact force imaging.

Soft materials contain large molecules or particles that have sizes which are intermediate between atomic and macroscopic length scales. As a result, the dynamics in soft materials are often many orders of magnitude slower than in simple (small) molecular systems. Their properties are often dominated by thermal effects and Van der Waals interactions. The relatively weak nature of the interactions between the components of soft systems results in large deformations in response to external perturbations. Confinement of large molecules or particles in thin films (or near surfaces) also has a significant effect on relaxation processes in soft materials. Much of what we do looks at how the presence of surfaces and interfaces influences the dynamic and mechanical properties of films, drops and bubbles.

Our approach is curiosity driven. Many of our projects have arisen serendipitously and developed over time to become full programmes of research. We often design our own equipment and experimental techniques and this allows us to perform experiments that no one else can do.

We enjoy spending time in the lab with students in order to help them to hone their skills and get the best out of their projects. Our hands-on approach to learning laboratory skills is complemented by a range of graduate-level courses that are provided by the central university. We welcome applications from UK and overseas students and aim to provide a friendly working environment for all.

Interested in joining us? email James ( james.sharp@nottingham.ac.uk )