Statistical Physics in Soft & Active Matter Systems
Employing Optical Tweezers, Microscopy & Brownian Dynamics Simulations
The horizon of possibilities offered by modern experimental techniques, such as, optical tweezers and advanced imaging to probe and manipulate micron and sub-micron sized objects make it a very exciting time to study statistical physics in soft and active matter systems. Soft matter systems are characterized by their comparatively soft mechanical response, i.e. the property of being more easily deformable in ambient conditions. In an active system, mechanical energy gets injected continuously from other sources. The importance of studying statistical phenomena in soft and active matter systems are manifold. In addition to exhibiting fascinating and tunable mechanical properties for innovative applications, they provide versatile model systems that have become increasingly important for the understanding of fundamental equilibrium and nonequilibrium processes in condensed matter physics.
For example, colloids, despite being much larger in size, share many statistical properties with the atomic systems as both the systems are driven by the same underlying mechanisms. The manifestations of structural properties or fluctuations, as in phase transitions, glass formation, critical and dissipation phenomena etc. are particularly similar. Moreover, the advantage of studying the physics in soft matter systems is that the interactions can easily be tuned over a wide range by external parameters such as optical, magnetic or electric fields, whereas in atomic systems they are dictated by the electronic structures.
The research topics that we are presently interested in and the tools we primarily use are mentioned below.