Department of Applied Physics

Soft Matter and Biological Physics

Enabling a sustainable, functional and resource-efficient next generation of materials by uncovering the physical mechanisms underlying the behavior of soft and biological matter. 


[Translate to English:]

Materials you can trust with your life  

We study the fundamental processes that organize the assembly, the structure and the mechanical properties of biological and other soft materials. Fundamental and applied research reinforce each other: We figure out how these materials work, and use these insights to develop bio-inspired design strategies to improve and disrupt the development of man-made materials.

Book Molecular Theory of Nematic (and Other) Liquid Crystals - Author Paul van der Schoot

  • Provides a simple and concise introduction to the statistical mechanics of liquid crystals

  • Starts from (classical) Density Functional Theory (DFT) and continues for Onsager and Maier-Saupe theories

  • Focused entirely on molecular theories of why nematic phases arise


In physics the glass phase is deemed to be a special form of a solid. While the material feels hard, it lacks a regular crystalline structure. Physicists still cannot explain the transition from a liquid to this special solid form. Solving this mystery will bring numerous applications within reach. Fast-working computer chips, for example, or recyclable plastic. The glass phase can even help us better understand asthma and cancer metastasis.

Work with us!

Please check out the TU/e Vacancies page for further opportunities within our group. 


Green tyres: Building better rubbers with biomaterials

In recent years a significant driver for global growth in (amorphous) polymer materials has been the innovative production and use of plastics in new application areas such as sustainable energy, automotive, rail, naval, transport, construction and infrastructure, defence and aerospace, medical and healthcare, electronics and telecommunication. Using dynamic computer simulations, our goal is to provide physical insights for predicting the morphology and thermomechanical properties of nanocomposites with bio and inorganic fillers, from their atomic-level characteristics. One example is the use of biopolymers (PLA) to create better rubbers for ‘green tyres’.


Active materials: swimmers, cells, switching?

Active matter provides a new paradigm for understanding non-equilibrium behavior in living systems, as well as for designing responsive and bio-inspired materials with novel functional properties. Using coarse-grained simulations and theory, we study phenomena such as collective cell migration during wound healing, self-organization of active membrane structures, and the solidification and fluidization response of disordered active materials. Applications range from targeted drug delivery to self-healing materials and soft robotics.

Meet some of our Researchers

Hydrogels: from mechanical actuators to drug delivery platforms

Hydrogels are solid materials that consist of almost only water held together by a polymer network. Because these materials are relatively soft they respond strongly to changes in, e.g., temperature, acidity and concentration of salt, and hence are promising candidates for actuators and controlled drug release. We combine simulations with analytical theory to better understand the relation between structure, mechanics, thermodynamics and performance of such networks and gels.


Check out all our courses