- Statistical mechanics: Coarse-graining, free energy calculations modelling.
- Computational physics: Methodologies, optimization, coarse-graining, analysis methods, modelling.
- Soft-condensed matter:Self-assembly and non-equilibrium phenomena. Material properties.
- DNA:Hybridization and zippering dynamics, melting, sequence specific interactions.
- Polymers: Static and dynamic properties, elastic and viscoelastic material properties, rheology.
- Scattering experiments: Theory and analysis of experimental x-ray, neutron, and light scattering spectra.
Soft-condensed matter such as polymers, colloids, and liquid crystals offers beautiful examples of how relative simple interactions between simple constituents gives rise to emergent exceedingly complex phases. These materials has unique mechanical and electrodynamical response functions. The interactions between atoms are dictated by quantum mechanics, and hence the solid, liquid or gaseous phases they can form. On the other hand, we synthesize polymer molecules or colloidal particles with specific interactions, and hence design a whole array of new phases with desired properties. From a fundamental perspective, soft-matter offers many insights into the emergence of material phases. From an applied perspective, soft-materials are are the materials life is made of, and comprise a large part of the materials we eat and surround our self with.
While designer atoms such as colloidal systems are interesting, they are passive and self-assembles into their phases as dictated by the laws of nature. Biological cells senses their environment, performs computations, and respond actively. That begs the question whether we can make physical systems which sense their environments, can perform computations, and whether they can actuate phase changes or motility as a response. Such physical non-equilibrium systems could perhaps mimic biological matter, and would certainly teach us much interesting physics about non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.
Computer simulations are simply fun. By visualizing the simulations we get movies of e.g. what the polymers does, and hence can directly observe fundamental physics at the microscopic scale. Doing that experimentally is quite difficult, scattering experiments are excellent for characterizing microscopic structure and dynamics, but rather difficult to interprete, and certainly they do not offer us a real space image of the phenomena we want to study. With computer simulations we can also "adjust" the laws of nature or use cleverly crafted models, that allows us to study the relative importance of various physical effects that can be impossible to disentangle in real experiments.