Fundamentals of Soft Matter Science

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ISBN 9781439827758
Cat# K11369



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Cat# KE11254



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  • Takes a highly descriptive and visual approach
  • Emphasizes modern imaging and other experimental techniques
  • Describes everyday materials applications
  • Provides a descriptive account of materials in each chapter
  • Gives balanced coverage to each major class of soft matter


Soft materials such as liquid crystals, polymers, biomaterials, and colloidal systems touch every aspect of our lives. Not surprisingly, the rapid growth of these fields over the past few decades has resulted in an explosion of soft matter research groups worldwide. Fundamentals of Soft Matter Science introduces and explores the scientific study of soft matter and molecular self-assembly, covering the major classifications of materials, their structure and characteristics, and everyday applications.

Designed for beginners to the field with a basic scientific background, this readable book emphasizes conceptual understanding, minimizing detailed mathematical derivations. Each chapter is dedicated to a different group of soft materials, including liquid crystals, surfactants, polymers, colloids, and soft biomaterials. Each subject is broken down into the essential concepts: material structures and physical characteristics, some simple theoretical ideas, and important experimental methods. The book emphasizes commonly used experimental techniques and practical applications. Full color illustrations and photographs are incorporated throughout to help describe the systems and key concepts.

Table of Contents

Learning Objectives
What Is Soft Matter?
Basic Thermal Physics
Intermolecular Forces
Diffusion and Random Walks
The Phase Diagram
Aggregation and Assembly
Mechanical Properties of Soft Matter
The Concept of Soft Materials and Their Characteristics
Review of Thermal Physics
Review the Mechanical Properties of Materials
Further Reading

Liquid Crystals
Learning Objectives
Introduction to Liquid Crystals
Anisotropy in Liquid Crystals
The Order Parameter
Thermotropic and Lyotropic Liquid Crystals
Birefringence in Liquid Crystals
Defect Textures
Thermotropic Liquid Crystal Phases
Experimental Techniques
Applications of Liquid Crystals
The Characteristics of Liquid Crystal Materials
Anisotropy and Birefringence
The Structure of Liquid Crystal Phases
Experimental Techniques and Liquid Crystal Technologies
Further Reading

Learning Objectives
Types of Surfactants
Surface Tension and Surfactants
Self-Assembly and Phase Behavior
Membrane Elasticity and Curvature
Applications of Surfactants
Experimental Methods
Physical and Chemical Properties of Surfactants
The Hydrophobic Effect
The Importance of Molecular Shape on Phase Structure and Membrane Curvature
Applications and Experiments
Further Reading

Learning Objectives
Early Polymers
Polymer Structure
Liquid Crystal Polymers
Polymer Solutions
The Glassy and Polymer Melt Phases
The Mechanical Properties of Polymers
Experimental Techniques
Polymer Architecture
Polymers in Solution
Experimental Methods
Further Reading

Colloidal Materials
Learning Objectives
Characteristics of Colloidal Systems
Colloids in Suspension
Competing Forces in Colloidal Dispersions
Interparticle Interactions
Colloidal Aggregation
Colloidal Crystals
Granular Materials
Experimental Techniques
Characteristics of Colloidal Systems
Colloidal Aggregation and Dispersion
Experimental Techniques
Further Reading

Soft Biological Materials
Learning Objectives
The Composition of the Cell
The Cell Membrane
Protein Structures and Assemblies
Experimental Techniques
Biomaterials as Soft Matter
Experimental Techniques
Further Reading

Appendix A: The Fourier Transform
Appendix B: Physical Constants and Conversions
Appendix C: Laue Scattering Theory
Appendix D: Entropy and Thermodynamic Equilibrium
Appendix E: The Amino Acids

Author Bio(s)

Editorial Reviews

"The publication is written at a very fundamental level, which will make it easily readable for undergraduate students. It will certainly also be a valuable text for students and postgraduates in interdisciplinary programmes, as not only physical aspects, but also the chemistry and applications are presented and discussed. … The book is well illustrated, and I really do like the examples and pictures provided for simple demonstration experiments, which can be done during the lectures. Also, the experimental techniques chapter at the end of the book may be helpful. The question sections are helpful to deepen the understanding of the learned concepts."
—Ingo Dierking, Liquid Crystals Today, Vol. 23, 2014

"… a welcome addition … succeeds in giving a broad overview and conveying the fascination of the field."
—Hans M. Wyss, Physics Today, November 2013

"A nicely structured book that is at the right level for undergraduates. I’ll recommend it for our soft matter course and to others."
—Professor Helen F. Gleeson, University of Manchester

"Broader in coverage than existing texts … a very good introduction to the field of soft matter."
—Professor Gary Bryant, RMIT University, Melbourne