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Wednesday 7th September 2016 to Friday 9th September 2016


Sam Edwards was a pivotal figure in soft matter physics. Taking forward the work of earlier theorists working in other areas such as quantum field theory, he had the vision to harness the power of mathematical tools to study this new class of materials, and base our understanding of them on a more rigorous foundation. Sir Sam combined his deep theoretical knowledge with a clear view of the way that theoretical science can help resolve practical engineering and industrial problems and managed on many occasions to bring theorists and industrialists to work together.

Soft matter is defined loosely as matter that can display properties intermediate between liquid and solid behaviour, depending on timescales, temperature and flow conditions. It encompasses a broad range of materials, from powders and colloidal suspensions to flexible long-chain polymers and solutions of amphiphilic, or soap-like, molecules. All these are not only ubiquitous in Industry but also arise in many biological contexts.

Today, there continues to be fundamental theoretical interest in the underlying physics and self-organising mechanisms present in soft materials. Many of these share a common mathematical structure that can be exploited for theoretical advances. The legacy of Sam Edwards includes not only the specific scientific advances he made (for instance in entangled polymer rheology and in the packing of powders) but also the many mathematical tools he developed, and his broader realization that whole classes of soft material are governed by unifying physical principles that stem from the geometry and topology of their microscopic components, independent of their precise molecular or chemical character.

Aims and Objectives

This workshop aimed to highlight developments in theoretical physics and mathematical frameworks for the modelling and simulation of soft matter systems, with particular emphasis on how these models can inform industrial processes, materials, and design. In the spirit of Sir Sam's approach, there were two main objectives.

  • One was to encourage Industrial participants to help identify grand-challenge questions for the broader academic community that can motivate future theoretical work.
  • The other was to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches that will maximise the impact of emerging new theoretical insights on currently outstanding industrial problems.

Building on the foundations laid by Sir Sam Edwards, talks provided leading-edge advances and insights into soft matter systems and their applications. Scientific topics included both traditional and novel polymeric materials; powders, glasses and jammed materials; and interfacial soft matter such as emulsions and colloidal gels. Current and potential applications areas for these systems include health, energy and environment, consumer goods, advanced materials, and foods.

Registration and Venue

There was be a nominal registration fee of £75 or £50 for academics and an additional charge for the College dinner of £45.

A memorial event for Sir Sam Edwards tooke place between 18.00 and 19.00 on Thursday 8th September at Gonville & Caius Chapel. Therefore, it is anticipated that those who attend will have had a past association with Sir Sam. En-suite accommodation has been reserved locally at a cost of £75.00 per night. Please indicate under ‘Additional Information’ when registering if you will require accommodation and for which night/s. The workshop took place at the Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge. Please see the link for further information about the venue.