The term soft matter or soft condensed matter encompasses systems which are highly flexible and extremely sensible to external perturbations. They exhibit numerous forms of self-organization and have significant structure and dynamics on mesoscopic length scale (~10 to 10000 nm). The organized state can range from a simple spatial or temporal ordering to the intricate interaction between order and function in biological systems. Notable examples include colloidal suspensions, emulsions, surfactant assemblies, liquid crystals, polymer solutions, even greases, pastes, and granular materials. Most biological materials are also naturally included in this list, and much of the recent interest in the field has arisen from attempts to understand the physical properties of biomembranes, proteins, DNAs, and chromosomes.

The field of soft matter research provides a bridge between the conventional physics and the biologically oriented sciences and engineering. Application of physics to biological problems is not a new phenomenon. In fact, physicists have made significant contributions to the field of protein and DNA structure.

There is a renewed interest in the soft matter not only because of their technological importance in industries dealing with detergency, biotechnology, and catalysts, but also due to the realization that these systems are fertile grounds for new sciences. Advancing our understanding of soft matters requires an unprecedented combination of traditionally distinct, and non-interacting, fields. One of the greatest challenges is the simple recognition and appreciation of the disparate skills required for attacking problems with relentlessly increasing levels of complexity.

The Laboratory of Soft Matter Physics has been founded in April 2001, aiming at the understanding of structural and dynamical properties of complex subjects, especially those related to the life phenomena such as DNA, protein, chromosome, and biomembrane. The lab has promised a new start. It is time to act.



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