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WiSe 2016-2017 Soft Matter v2.0

Liquid crystal nematic phase

Liquid crystal nematic phase
Image Credit: CC

Target audience

Master Program Chemistry (Chemie) and Polymer Science, Course n° 21242.


S-Jun.-Prof. Annabelle Bertin (50%, annabelle.bertin@bam.de), S-Jun.-Prof. Marcelo Calderón (50%, marcelo.calderon@fu-berlin.de).




5 credits, 4 SWS.

Course starts on Monday 17.10.2016 and takes place Mondays, 2pm - 6pm, room 23.02. 

Exam and students participation

During the first half of the semester (with S-Jun.-Prof. Annabelle Bertin, overview of the various types of soft matter, mostly from the chemical and materials science point of view and for biomedical applications) the students will be asked to discuss reviews and publications as training for the exam and work in small groups (during the seminar itself). In the frame of the seminars (Übungen), during the second half of the semester (with S-Jun.-Prof. Marcelo Calderón, soft matter approached mostly from the physical chemistry point of view), the students will be asked to present one experimental method that is important in the field of Soft Matter (AFM, DLS, Zeta-Potential, Rheology, etc; the talks should be prepared at home).

The exam format will be a talk / ppt presentation about a recent publication (10-15 min) related to at least one of the topics studied during the course followed by 10-15 min questions by the two examiners, half on the topic of the publication, half on the lecture in general.


1st part:

  • Introduction:
    What is soft matter? What are the general aspects of soft matter? Why is it important?
  • Amphiphiles: Self-assembly of amphiphiles such as surfactants and block copolymers in bulk and solution (micelles, vesicles)
  • Gels: What is a gel? Applications of (hydro)gels for biomedical applications
  • Colloids
  • Liquid crystals
  • Soft Matter in Nature: Biomembranes, artificial cells, etc.
  • Self-healing polymers, Shape memory polymers for biomedical applications

2nd part:

  • Fundamentals:
    Forces, energies, and timescales in soft matter, A brief intro to phase transitions
  • Polymers:
    Introduction to polymers, Ideal chains, Real chains, Polymer thermodynamics, Viscoelasticity
  • Gels: Percolation theory, Swelling
Book recommendations
  1. Introduction to Soft Matter: Synthetic and Biological Self-Assembling Materials, Revised Edition. Author: Ian W. Hamley. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-470-51609-6.
  2. Soft Condensed Matter. Author: Richard A. L. Jones. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, ISBN: 978-0198505891.
  3. Polymers Physics. Authors: M. Rubinstein, Ralph H. Colby. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, ISBN: 978-0198520597.
  4. Lecture notes of the Forschungszentrum Jülich:

33rd IFF Spring School (2002); Soft Matter – Complex Materials on Mesoscopic Scales
35th IFF Spring School (2004); Physics Meets Biology. From Soft Matter to Cell Biology
39th IFF Spring School (2008); Soft Matter – From Synthetic to Biological Materials
42nd IFF Spring School (2011); Macromolecular Systems in Soft- and Living-Matter