Joseph Paulsen awarded NSF CAREER grant

Congratulations to Prof. Paulsen, who was recently awarded a five-year, $761,314 grant from the NSF.

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Mark Bowick serving as Deputy Director of KITP programming

The Joel Dorman Steele Professor of Physics, is spending the next two years in Santa Barbara, California, as deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP).

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Paper Accepted in Soft Matter

Postdoc Marco Leoni, Former Postdoc Oksana Manyuhina, and Professors Mark Bowick & Cristina Marchetti had their paper accepted in Soft Matter

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Soft Matter is a multi-disciplinary field that explores the science of easily deformable matter. The low cost of deforming soft matter means that entropic contributions play a very important role in the statistical mechanics of soft materials.  When entropic fluctuations dominate soft matter systems often exhibit markedly different behavior than hard systems. While most hard materials expand when heated many flexible polymers instead shrink when heated, since there are many more coiled configurations available than stretched configurations. Thus they have a negative coefficient of thermal expansivity. Polymerized or elastic membranes exhibit a remarkable extended phase described by a rough surface embedded in three-dimensional flat space. The stability of this extended membrane phase arises from thermal fluctuations, which act like isotropic corrugations to stiffen the membrane to bending on long length scales. If you pull on a sheet of rubber longitudinally it shrinks transversely. The fractional shrinking compared to the fractional extension is measured by the so-called Poisson ratio. In contrast when you pull on a flexible elastic membrane it expands in the transverse direction! The entropic fluctuations are ironed out in the direction under tension and this spread in the transverse direction.