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Soft and Biomatter Theory


Admission Requirements

No special requirements for those admitted to the MSc programme Research in Physics


The aim of this course is to introduce a number of basic theoretical tools for understanding soft and biomatter.

Topics covered:
Basics of fluid mechanics and of elasticity theory
The Reynolds number; small Reynolds number hydrodynamics in biomatter
Brownian motion of particles in a fluid
Use of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem to measure stiffness-constants in biomatter
Introduction to Colloids
Elements of polymers: random walks; ideal chains and force extension of ideal chains
Elements of liquid crystals
Frank elastic energy of liquid crystals

Course objectives

The course main objective is to provide the students with a solid core-knowledge on the mechanics of soft and biomaterials, such that, after the course, the students will have enough background to independently learn about these topics from the specialized literature.


Physics Schedule

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorials (exercise classes)

Assessment method

The assessment is based on three parts:
1. Written examination, with questions modeled after the exercises from the tutorials. There is a possibility to retake the exam. (A date for the retake will be decided in consultation.) (50%)
2. Participation and performance in the exercise class (25%)
3. Presentation about a relevant research paper (25%)


Course material is on Blackboard.
To have access to Blackboard you need a ULCN-account.Blackboard UL

Reading list

We will provide a additional course material in a syllabus.
Primary text book: Soft Matter Physics – an Introduction by M. Kleman and O. D. Lavrentovich (Springer 2003).
This book contains many more topics than can be covered in the course, and will therefore also be a useful reference guide during your later studies. We will clearly indicate during the course which parts of the book are used and examined.


Lecturer: [ van Saarloos]