Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelberg

Theory of soft and biomatter

In the summer term 2007, I teach a course on Theory of soft and biomatter (Tuesday 2.15-3.45 pm, BIOQUANT, INF 267, lecture room on ground floor, 2 credit points). This course is given in English and addresses students after the Vordiplom from physics and related disciplines. Throughout the course, applications to biological systems will be emphasized.

Recommended literature

  • SA Safran, Statistical thermodynamics of surfaces, interfaces, and membranes, Addison-Wesley, Reading 1994
  • PM Chaikin and TC Lubensky, Principles of condensed matter physics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1995
  • KA Dill and S Bromberg, Molecular driving forces : statistical thermodynamics in chemistry and biology, Garland Sci. 2003

More specialized reading

  • DF Evans and H Wennerstr�m, The colloidal domain: where physics, chemistry, and biology meet, 2nd edition, Wiley 1998
  • RAL Jones, Soft condensed matter, Oxford University Press 2002
  • R Lipowsky and E Sackmann, Eds., Structure and Dynamics of Membranes, Elsevier, Amsterdam 1995
  • LD Landau and EM Lifschitz, Elastizitätstheorie, Band VII des Lehrbuchs für Theoretische Physik, Akademie Verlag, 1991
  • M Doi and SF Edwards, The theory of polymer dynamics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986


  • 17.4. Introduction: soft matter & biological physics, membranes & polymers in cells, shape of vesicles, capsules & cells, basic scales in cellular systems
  • 24.4.+8.5.+15.5. Molecular and colloidal interactions: electrostatic interaction, Poisson-Boltzmann theory, strong coupling limit, Debye-Hueckel theory, dipolar interactions, van der Waals interaction, Hamaker theory, Derjaguin approximation, hydrophilic/hydrophobic interactions, depletion interaction, DLVO theory
  • 22.5.+29.5. Simple and complex fluids: ideal gas, virial expansion, van der Waals fluid, hard spheres, liquid crystals, isotropic-nematic transition, Gibbs phase rule, amphiphilic systems
  • 5.6.+12.6. Fluid-fluid interfaces: Ginzburg-Landau theory, kink solution, surface tension, introduction to differential geometry, capillary waves, Laplace equation, wetting, Young equation, foams, Rayleigh-Plateau instability, software Surface Evolver
  • 19.6.+26.6. Fluid membranes: curvature energy, fluctuations, Helfrich interaction, vesicle shapes, vesicle adhesion
  • 3.7.+10.7. Polymers: ideal polymer, steric interaction with boundaries, freely jointed chain, semiflexible polymers, force-extension relations, polymer gels
  • 17.7.+24.7. Continuum mechanics: elasticity theory versus hydrodynamics, stress and strain, rate of stress and strain, Hookean body and Newtonian fluid, viscoelasticity, contact mechanics, JKR-theory, shell theory, cell mechanics

Additional material (access restricted)

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