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JULY 10-15, 2011


Mittelwihr, France






Soft matter science is an interdisciplinary field of research, attracting equal attention from chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers. In part, this appeal comes from the astounding properties of “soft materials”, e.g., from their unique capacity to respond to external stimuli. Even weak stimuli may induce significant changes in behavior due to “softness” and mesoscopic structuring of the material. While softness results from weak interactions—comparable in strength to the thermal energy—between the constituents, mesoscopic structuring is often a consequence of self-assembly, i.e., of the spontaneous organization of matter into ordered arrangements much larger in size than the constituent molecules. Modern materials science increasingly exploits these distinctive features for the design of new materials. Many of today's interesting systems have multiple components, various interfaces, and complex effective interactions. Understanding the synergy of these factors and their impact on materials properties presents a great scientific challenge. Advances in this respect hold the promise of creating novel materials with a level of functionality similar to that existing in nature.

The SoMaS School 2011 aims to give attendees a broad exposure to fundamental concepts and recent advances in the research of complex fluids and biological materials. The school integrates knowledge from physics, chemistry and materials science. The central goal is to present the advantages of such an interdisciplinary approach and to discuss current challenges in soft matter science.

To this end, the school deploys the following tools:

  • Basic knowledge is provided through a series of introductory courses dealing with soft matter physics, macromolecular chemistry, biomacromolecules and bioengineering, and methods for surface analysis.
  • The field of each course will be complemented and illustrated by seminars on specific topics including novel results on the micromanipulation of membranes, precision macromolecular chemistry, rheology of soft matter systems, etc.
  • Opportunity for intensive discussion is a further central element. To foster such scientific exchange all participants shall present their results but also, and most importantly, their questions and strategies in the form of posters.
  • A further key element of the school is the so-called “master classes”. The goal of these classes is to offer several selected young researchers the opportunity to discuss with two distinguished senior scientists, Prof. Tom Witten and Prof. Philip Pincus, in the form of a round table discussion in front of all participants of the summer school, their current research projects and future challenges in soft matter science. All attendees of the summer school are invited to participate in these discussions through questions and comments.
  • The school is completed by a seminar on career prospects.


The SoMas Summer School 2011 will start by highlighting key results and activities of Soft Matter Science in the Rhine Valley during a public presentation on Sunday afternoon  (July 10, 2011): “Soft Matter Science on both sides of the Rhine”, explaining what “soft matter science” is.

The SoMaS Summer School 2011 will be concluded by a presentation on the future challenges in this interdisciplinary discipline:  “Does an interdisciplinary research really work and what needs to be done in Soft Matter Science?”.  All participants are invited to identify new challenges in this interdisciplinary field of research and to present their expectations for the next SoMaS Summer School in 2012.

PhD and master students can obtain 3 ECTS points for the scientific units and 1 ECTS point for the career seminar.



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