Welcome to the Laboratory for Theoretical Soft Materials!

The Alexander-Katz group, part of the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering, combines theory and simulations to develop a deep understanding of a variety of soft materials systems. Soft materials are defined by the relatively weak interactions between their constituent molecules, leading to unique properties and outstanding versatility. Biological soft materials such as proteins, DNA, and lipids form the building blocks of life, self-assembling into hierarchical systems that control essentially all biological functions. As control over synthetic soft materials systems has improved, the same principles prevalent in biology have been applied to drug delivery, nanotemplating, and photovoltaics.

In our group, we are interested in gaining a fundamental understanding of the self-assembly and dynamics of soft materials for novel applications in fields such as medicine, biology, engineering, physics, and chemistry. The topics we study are highly interdisciplinary, working at the interface of physics, physical chemistry, and biology, and we look to nature for inspiration and general guidelines. We employ a wide range of theoretical and simulation techniques to gain valuable insight, implementing whatever tools are necessary to study the particular system under consideration. Finally, we actively pursue experimental collaborations to serve not only as inspiration, but also as a quantitative test of our results and predictions.

A globule-stretch transition of a polymer attached to a colloidal particle in shear flow

Globule-stretch transition of a polymer attached to a colloidal particle in shear flow

Department of Materials Science and Engineering MIT