Uni Luxembourg Soft Matter Theory at Luxembourg

Welcome to the Soft Matter Theory group, part of the Physics and Materials Science research unit at the Université du Luxembourg. The head of the group is professor Tanja Schilling.

Soft matter theory is about understanding the everyday materials that make up our world: polymers, colloids, pastes and complex fluids such as blood or yoghurt. The behaviour of these materials is often very surprising - think of water freezing to make a solid with a lower density than the liquid, or a swimming pool full of corn-starch solution that you can either swim through or run over.

If you are interested in doing your Bachelor/Master/PhD thesis with us, you are welcome to apply! Please send your application to Tanja.

Taught MSc Pogram

Uni Luxembourg offers an MSc program in condensed matter physics. This is a good first step to a career in soft or hard condensed matter, particularly if you wish to do a PhD in the topic.

PhD Posts and Postdoc Fellowships

Check the job site for current open positions. Also, Luxembourg's national research agency offers the possiblity to apply for your own funding for PhD or postdoc grants, as well as placements for study while continuing to work part-time in industry. Tanja and any of the junior group leaders will be happy to mentor you in persuing this.

Some Example Research Topics

Time-Dependent Rare Event Dynamics

The classic example of a rare event is nucleation, such as the formation of a raindrop from water vapour - this happens every day, but it is rare on the timescale of motion of the water molecules.

You can read about our method for calculating rare-event pathways off-equilibrium on wikipedia, or you can download some example code here.

Crystallization in a fluid of ellipsoids

A `hard ellipsoid' fluid is completely characterized by the fixed aspect ratio of the particles of which it is made. Even at aspect ratios close to unity (near-spherical particles), packing fractions exist where the over-compressed fluid enters a glassy state. Because dynamics are arrested in the glassy regime, certain commonly made assumptions from classical statistical physics can fail, and new types of behaviour are seen.

We employ event-driven molecular dynamics simulation, accelerated using our own novel rare-event techniques, to probe behaviour in the glassy regime.

Crystallization by Heterogenous Nucleation

heterogenous nucleation at parallel walls Nucleation rates can vary greatly with different boundary conditions. The influence of a solid wall on nucleation within the fluid is shown here. The wall is characterized by its lattice constant a; very distinct nucleation regimes exist as a function of a .

You can read about our latest heterogenous nucleation work (here)

Phase Transitions off Equilibrium

Crystallization and other phase transitions becomes more complex when a system is subjected to non-equilbirum driving forces. An example of this is structure formation of polymer melts under shear flow.

Research Funding

The DFG priority program SFB Tr6
The DFG priority program SPP 1296
The EU network of excellence SoftComp
The Luxembourgish national research agency Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg