People

Tim Atherton

Tim Atherton
Contact Info:
Tufts University
Physics and Astronomy
574 Boston Avenue
Room 412L
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617-627-2835
Email Professor
Research website

Associate Professor

Expertise
Condensed Matter Physics, Soft materials, Colloids, Liquid Crystals, Computational Physics, Physics Education

Research
Soft matter physics is the study of matter that is all around us in everyday life: soaps, oil, foods, sand, foams, and biological matter. All of these are readily deformable at room temperature and combine properties of both fluids and solids. Despite their ubiquity, these materials are extremely complicated. Unlike simple fluids like water, they have rich internal structure; unlike crystalline solids they are typically not periodically ordered. Moreover, they exist in long-lived metastable states far from equilibrium and respond to stimuli such as applied electric and magnetic fields, temperature and pressure. My work seeks to understand how these materials respond to shape: how they self-organize on curved surfaces or in complex geometries and how this knowledge can be used both to sculpt desirable shapes at the microscopic scale and create shape changing systems like soft robots. We use high performance computing to simulate and predict these behaviors and work closely with experimentalists at Tufts and beyond.